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Greg W.
Republican OR 2

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  • Tribute to Mike Fahey

    by Representative Greg Walden

    Posted on 2014-12-12

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    WALDEN of oregon in the house of representatives Friday, December 12, 2014 Mr. WALDEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize my very good friend, Mike Fahey, for his many years as a leading Oregon business executive and advocate of forest health. Mike is retiring this month as CEO of Columbia Helicopters, where he has loyally served in numerous executive roles for nearly 40 years. As his career at Columbia Helicopters winds down, I'd like to take a moment to pay tribute to his significant contributions to Oregon and the aerospace industry.

    A native Oregonian, Mike was born in Oregon City and attended local public schools. He graduated from Portland State University in 1966 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Accounting, with Honors. His studies emphasized economics and finance, subjects that would prove to be crucial later in life when he took the helm of a company with global operations.

    In 1966, Mike began working for the accounting firm of Arthur Young & Company, and in 1968 he began a three-year project, auditing the books of a rapidly growing, young company called Columbia Helicopters. That audit introduced him to the company's founder, Wes Lematta, a pioneer in the helicopter operations industry. In 1975, Mike joined Columbia Helicopters full time as the company's first Director of Finance. He later was named Vice President of Finance, and became Executive Vice President in 1997.

    For the majority of his employment with Columbia Helicopters, Mike has been involved with contract negotiations for both foreign and domestic operations, as well as assisting with the purchase of aircraft to expand the company's fleet of heavy-lift helicopters. One of Mike's happiest memories was when the company purchased two Chinook helicopters from tycoon businessman Donald Trump in 1993. Mike always felt the company got the best end of the bargain because he'd read Trump's book ``The Art of the Deal'' and anticipated a negotiating tactic that Trump attempted to use. Mike won that deal, Donald.

    In the late 1990s and throughout the 2000s, Mike took an active role in promoting legislation that would improve forest health. Like most of us from the West, Mike believes that proper forest management is key to maintaining good forest health. The company's ``selective harvesting'' system uses Columbia's helicopters to remove only a portion of the timber, creating natural forest spacing and improving the overall health of the forest.

    In 1999, Mike was named President of Columbia Helicopters, a position he held until 2013 when he was named CEO. Perhaps his greatest achievement during that period was the acquisition of the Type Certificates for the Boeing 234 commercial Chinook helicopter, and for the Boeing Vertol 107-II helicopter. This is the equivalent of Chevrolet selling the engineering and manufacturing rights to the Corvette to a small business. Today these heavy-lift helicopters are identified as the Columbia Model 234 Chinook and the Columbia 107-II, and Columbia Helicopters is the world leader in commercial heavy-lift helicopter operations. The company currently has aircraft working around the world: supporting military operations in Afghanistan, moving petroleum exploration equipment in Peru and Papua New Guinea, logging and construction projects in Canada and domestic operations in the westem United States.

    Throughout the years, Mike has always been a dedicated supporter of numerous charities and organizations, whether local, national or global in scale. He has supported Lines for Life, a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing substance abuse and suicide in youths and the military; Medical Teams International, a global health organization working to provide care to people affected by disaster, conflict and poverty; the Providence Medical Foundation and Providence Child Care; and the American Heart Association. He also currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Oregon Forest Industries Council.

    More than anything else, Mike is a devoted and loving family man. He married his wife Penny in 1964 in Lake Oswego, Oregon, where they still maintain a home. They have three children, Michael Fahey II, Holly Bellavara and Elizabeth Tobin, and they have six grandchildren. Mike will finally get to spend more time with his family in retirement, but I expect he will still find time to hit the links with [[Page E1841]] his clubs--he got his first hole in one in August 2013, and he is making a valiant effort at his second.

    Mr. Speaker and my colleagues, please join me in recognizing and thanking my good friend, Mike Fahey, for his many years of exemplary leadership as an Oregon businessman and caring member of his community. I wish Mike and Penny many more years of good health and true happiness.


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