Chuck Frost, the Conscience of CFM, Passes

Chuck Frost, who died late last month, is remembered as a mentor to CFM's principals and the conscience of the firm.

Chuck Frost, who died late last month, is remembered as a mentor to CFM's principals and the conscience of the firm.

Chuck Frost, who was a mentor to CFM’s principals and the conscience to the firm, died in Portland January 26 at age 79. A Celebration of Life for Chuck will be held February 13 in Beaverton.

CFM started as a spinout of Tektronix when Chuck was vice president of administration. “When we first brought up the idea, which involved voluntarily taking pink slips, Chuck thought we had gone daft,” said CFM co-founder Gary Conkling. “He gradually warmed up to the idea. Much later, he told us forming CFM was a smart idea.”

When he retired from Tektronix, Chuck joined CFM. He worked as part of CFM client teams, but his greatest value came in asking tough questions about how we did our work – and for whom.

“Chuck was one of the most principled men I ever met,” Conkling said. “While I worked for Tektronix, Chuck insisted that we identify a public interest for anything that we lobbied. If we couldn’t make a credible case, we didn’t lobby the issue. He brought that same integrity inside our firm.”

That principled approach to public policy led the late Senator Mark Hatfield to hire Chuck as a Senior Fellow in Washington, D.C., where he finished his career before returning to Oregon to retire.

Below is Chuck’s obituary, which includes the time and location of his Celebration of Life.

Charles Henry Frost

April 4, 1936 – January 26, 2016

Charles “Chuck” Frost lived in a log cabin, worked as a fruit-picker, became a student body president, attended college, did a stint at the Pentagon, fell in love with a stewardess, worked for Tektronix in its heyday and served as a senior fellow for the late Senator Mark Hatfield. He loved life, cherished the outdoors and was a mentor, role model and friend to generations of policymakers and public affairs professionals.

Born April 4, 1936 to Wilfrid Tuttle Frost and Hazel Emma (Stephens) Frost in Berkeley, California, Chuck passed away January 26, 2016 in Portland. He was married 56 years to his best friend, Marilyn Jean (Heckman) Frost, and is survived by Marilyn, his son Charles Stephen Frost, daughter Laura Kathryn Frost, grandchildren Dane and Athena, brother Gordon and nieces and nephews.

He spent his first six years living in a log cabin in Crater Lake National Park, where his father was a park ranger. That ignited his lifelong love of nature, which he passed along to his children and grandchildren.

His family moved to Medford, where Chuck’s first job was picking fruit in nearby orchards. The family later moved to Portland. Chuck went to Grant High School and was elected student body president in 1954.

Chuck attended Willamette University before being drafted into the U.S. Army. He was on active duty in the Pentagon from 1958-1960. While in Washington, D.C., he met the love of his life, Marilyn, who worked for Capitol Airlines.

After they married, the Frosts moved to Portland and Chuck began his 34-year career with Tektronix, which included roles as director of public affairs and vice president of administration. He was often the public face of the company, which at its peak was Oregon’s largest private employer. Chuck earned a reputation for professionalism and principled advocacy. He had a knack for making complex subjects understandable.

When he retired, Chuck joined CFM Strategic Communications, which began as a spinout from Tektronix. He participated in client teams, but his greatest contribution was asking tough questions and serving as the firm’s conscience.

Chuck was active in the community, serving on the boards of the Oregon Symphony, Oregon Independent Colleges Association, Tuality Hospital and Associated Oregon Industries. He was a member of the Portland City Club and the Public Affairs Council.

Chuck and Marilyn moved back to Washington, D.C., in 1995 when he became a Senior Fellow for Senator Hatfield, a role he filled until Hatfield retired in 1997.

The Frosts returned to Portland to enjoy their retirement.

A Celebration of Chuck’s life will be held Saturday, February 13, from 2-4 p.m. at the Claremont Clubhouse, 15800 NW Country Club Dr., Portland, OR 97229. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to the Nature Conservancy of Oregon.