|By Jeff McDonald, The Bulletin, Bend,
Ore.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
June 26, 2009 - --A public memorial service is planned next week for Curtis O. Baney, a longtime Bend hotelier and entrepreneur who co-founded a family-owned hotel chain that would eventually span four Western states. He died Monday at the age of 84.
Baney's legacy will be most remembered by his family and his longtime employees, many of whom stayed with the Oxford Hotel Group from the start of their career until retirement, said Curtis A. Baney, his son, who is the company's president. The company has 800 employees.
The Baney family, which owned the Geiser Grand Hotel in Baker City from the mid-1950s until 1960 and several small motels in Oregon and Washington through the 1980s, launched the Oxford Suites and Oxford Inn & Suites brand from its Bend headquarters in 1989.
"Pretty much from 1989, we had one hotel per year under construction or under development," Curtis A. Baney said.
"Initially, he was the driving force," Baney said of his father. "He brought us kids along. He taught us the business and gave us the reins."
Flags were flown at half-mast this week at the company's 17 properties in Oregon, California, Washington and Idaho, including its home office in Bend.
The hotel group is building a new $12 million, 60-room upscale hotel in downtown Bend that is under construction at the corner of Minnesota Avenue and Lava Road, and is expected to open by November, Baney said Thursday. In January, the Baney Hotel Group opened its new corporate office off U.S. Highway 20 in east Bend.
Baney said the company, which competes against much larger hotel companies, has maintained his father's vision as a family-owned business.
"He never had a partner that wasn't family," he said.
Unlike some larger chain hotels, the Oxford Hotel Group designs, builds and manages all of its own hotels. It does not franchise, he said.
Curtis O. Baney was born Aug. 6, 1924, in Fowler, Mo. He enlisted in the Navy when he was 17 and served in the Pacific from 1942 through the end of World War II.
After the war, he returned to Missouri to start a used-car business. He would later move out West to start a used-car business in Eugene.
He also built apartments in Bend and Klamath Falls, his son said.
Curtis O. Baney entered the hotel business when he bought the historic Geiser Grand Hotel from its original owners in Baker City in 1956. He sold it a few years later, then built several motels throughout the Pacific Northwest in the 1960s and '70s, including the Maverick and Cimarron motels, both of which had locations in Bend and Klamath Falls and other cities in Oregon and Washington.
"He was an astute businessman and a tremendous dealmaker based on his background in the car business," Curtis A. Baney said. The elder Baney was the primary negotiator on the numerous land purchases and construction contracts the company signed as it grew, he said.
While playing a less active role in the company the last five years, the elder Baney still showed up to work every day and reviewed the company's direction, said Ali Meyer, one of Baney's grandchildren.
"He was really well-known for his ethic and his love for his employees and took a lot of pride in his business," Meyer said. "Until the last month, Grandpa was still going to work."
Baney is survived by his wife, Myrtie; his children, Kim, Kelsey and Curt; and seven grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his son, Kevin.
A private graveside service was held Thursday at Pilot Butte Cemetery. A public memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at the First Presbyterian Church of Bend.
Jeff McDonald can be reached at 541-383-0323 or at email@example.com.
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