WWL: Reser family donates $13M to Beaverton arts center

Washington County

BEAVERTON, Ore. (KOIN) — A state-of-the-art center for the arts is being built in Beaverton — and the first $13 million comes from a family almost synonymous with Oregon State University.

A rendering of what the Patricia Reser Center for Arts will look like in Beaverton. (Courtesy to KOIN)

An accomplished artist herself, Pat Reser’s generous gift means the “Patricia Reser Center for the Arts” is moving forward.

“Aristotle is credited with saying ‘The purpose of a city is for its people to flourish,'” Reser told KOIN 6 News.

The 550-seat theater near Beaverton City Hall will have conference and meeting rooms and also encourage creativity for generations to come.

“And so, if I can be a small instrument in helping people flourish in our community, it doesn’t get any better than that,” Reser said.

A rendering of the Patricia Reser Center for the Arts. The arts center will include conference and meeting rooms and also encourage creativity for generations to come. (Courtesy to KOIN)

The Reser name is legendary at Oregon State University.

Reser and her late husband Al were married while students at the university and have contributed millions of dollars to OSU — including updating what’s now Reser Stadium.

Pat Reser and her late husband Al were married while students at OSU and have contributed millions of dollars to OSU — including updating what's now Reser Stadium. (Courtesy to KOIN)

“So, he always credited Oregon State with giving him a kind of stability and framework for thinking,” Reser said.

Al died in 2010 after building the family fortune with Reser’s Fine Foods of Beaverton. It started with potato salad, made by Al’s mother Mildred, to get the family through the Depression.

Al Reser contributed millions of dollars to Oregon State University before he passed away in 201. (Courtesy to KOIN)

“In order for Al’s mom to feed her family, she started making potato salad and so those roots began out of necessity and survival,” Reser said.

Safeway started selling it in 1951 and Reser’s expanded into dips, spreads and other products perfected at Oregon State’s food lab.

Today, Reser’s employs 4,800 people at 16 locations across the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

The Resers became wealthy and nurtured a family tradition of giving back — something Pat Reser says can be overwhelming. 

“Part of it is, ‘Wow, how did we get to this point?,” she shared.

Reser hopes her $13 million gift is the start of something big for Beaverton.

“That center for the arts is going to serve as a catalyst for all kinds of expression, all kinds of learning and we will flourish,” Reser said.

The arts center will cost $46 million. The City of Beaverton is kicking in more than $22 million from various sources — including the lodging tax. The rest will come from private donors.

A rendering of what the Patricia Reser Center for Arts will look like in Beaverton. (Courtesy to KOIN)

Patricia Reser Center for the Arts’ grand opening is expected in the spring of 2021.

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