Astute retailer, councilor dies

Bob Chizum remembered for his tough-minded approach
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Bob Chizum, an astute clothing retailer and tough-minded city council member, died Monday from a heart attack at the age of 74.

Chizum was an innovator in selling children's clothes and opened a business with his wife, Jeanenne, called Kids For Sure/Sportswear For Her, which is now known as Glass Butterfly in Lake Oswego.

He served as a Lake Oswego City Council member between 1996 and 2000.

'He was the ultimate councilor, because he had integrity,' said Bill Klammer, a Lake Oswego mayor who served the same years as Chizum. 'If we talked about how to go on a certain issue, Bob would never waffle.'

Doug Schmitz, Lake Oswego's city manager, said Chizum was a fiscal conservative who could analyze issues and hold his ground in debates.

'He quickly cut right to the issue,' said Schmitz. 'He almost always had the answer and the solution and had a clear perspective of what he thought was best for Lake Oswego. He wanted city government to operate in a business-like manner.'

Chizum questioned the financial viability of Lake View Village during early planning phases and, as a member of the group Ask Lake Oswegans, he opposed the city's purchase of the Safeco building for a community center.

His son, Craig, said Chizum believed strongly that government should spend taxpayer's money wisely.

'You always knew where Bob stood,' said Alice Schlenker, Lake Oswego mayor from 1988 to 1996 and city council member from 1982 to 1984. 'That was really refreshing. He told it like it was - a real attribute of a city councilor.'

Schmitz said Chizum was also gregarious and had a good sense of humor.

'He used his sense of humor to prod and question citizens,' said Schmitz.

Chizum was born in Des Moines, Iowa and graduated with a business degree from University of Omaha in 1952. He served in the Army in France from 1955 to 1957.

His 41-year career in retail included working for Dayton's in Minneapolis and serving as president of Lipman's, a department store chain. He moved to Lake Oswego in 1979, when he began at Lipman's.

After 16 years of running Kids For Sure/Sportswear For Her, he retired and sold the business to his sons Phil and Doug.

He volunteered with SCORE, an organization of retired retail executives who counsel small businesses. He also volunteered as a guide at the Oregon Trail Center.

Burton Nudelman, a Lake Oswego retail management consultant and former owner of J. Burton Women's Apparel, said Chizum was a smart retailer.

'He was a very articulate man, and always a success as a merchant, a father and a husband,' Nudelman said. 'He was a good, dependable friend.'

'He knew what he wanted and he put it into his stores,' Nudelman said.

Klammer said Chizum's keen business sense helped him understand complex issues before the council.

'We used to have real interesting debates and in some cases arguments,' Klammer said. 'But when it was over with, many times we would go out and have one drink on the way home. Bob belonged to the Country Club and if the bar was still open, we would have one leisurely drink and talk about everything and there was never any animosity whatsoever.'

He is survived by his wife of 55 years, and his three sons, including Craig, and six grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Monday at Millennium Park in Lake Oswego.