Off Beat: Previous Denver Broncos owner was a Vancouver native

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

Published:

 
photoThe Columbian's front page on July 6, 1942, shows Clark County's attention was on the events of World War II, including the launch of the SS George Vancouver, a Liberty ship, on July 4. The Vancouver reportedly bumped into the opened railroad bridge on its way through, but Kaiser officials emphasized that the ship was undamaged.
photoThe Columbian's front page on July 6, 1942, included a report of the July 5 birth of Edgar Kaiser Jr. Kaiser bought the NFL's Denver Broncos in 1981. Before selling the team to Pat Bowlen in 1984, Kaiser engineered the acquisition of quarterback John Elway.
photoThe Columbian's front page on July 6, 1942, shows Clark County's attention was on the events of World War II. It also shows ways that standards for language have changed in the 72 years since then.

This is 12th Man territory, so most local Super Bowl viewers Sunday were rooting for the Seattle Seahawks.

Despite the regional loyalties, there is one significant local link to the Denver Broncos. Their previous owner was a Vancouver native, and his birth was front-page news in The Columbian — right next to a story about American submarines sinking enemy ships.

He didn't live here long, but a lot of local history is wrapped up in the years when Edgar Kaiser Jr. and his parents lived in Vancouver.

They were part of the industrial empire that transformed Vancouver during its World War II shipyard boom.

Henry J. Kaiser put his son Edgar in charge of three shipyards in Portland and Vancouver. His family lived in a neighborhood east of Washington School for the Deaf, not too far from the Vancouver shipyard.

In 1942, Edgar Kaiser was recognized as Clark County's First Citizen. That also was the year Edgar Jr. was born. The Columbian tied its Page 1 coverage of his July 5 birth with the July 4 launching of the Liberty ship SS George Vancouver — the first WWII ship built here.

Happy launch day

"Another Kaiser 'launching' took place Sunday … In this case, it was Edgar Kaiser Jr. launching his life as newly born son of the Vancouver-Portland shipyard executive," The Columbian reported on July 6, 1942.

After his death in 2012, Edgar Kaiser Jr. was remembered as a financier and philanthropist and former NFL owner.

Kaiser bought the Broncos in 1981. Before selling the team to Pat Bowlen in 1984, Kaiser engineered the acquisition of quarterback John Elway.

Elway led Denver to two Super Bowl wins and now is the executive in charge of football operations -- the guy who rebuilt the Broncos into Seattle's Super Bowl opponent.


Off Beat lets members of The Columbian news team step back from our newspaper beats to write the story behind the story, fill in the story or just tell a story.