Bob O’Loughlin Sr., founder of the Portland, Ore.-based O'Loughlin Trade Shows, died Aug. 17 of natural causes at his Portland home after an annual hunting trip with his family. He was 80.
For more than seven decades, O’Loughlin and his shows introduced millions of show-goers to the pleasures and joys of outdoor adventure, including boating, fishing, hunting, camping and RVing, according to an obituary in The Oregonian.
Flooding Portland’s Memorial Coliseum to stage a floating boat show, taking a fully grown killer whale “on the road,” spotlighting the skills of “Twiggy, The Waterskiing Squirrel” and attracting the likes of Ted Williams, Johnny Unitas, The Supremes and Tony Bennett for personal appearances, O’Loughlin blended imagination and ingenuity to create traffic-building show attractions that captivated audiences and supported exhibitor participation.
Several generations of young anglers caught their first fish at the Free Children’s Trout Pond, one of many family-friendly features O’Loughlin introduced at the company’s shows through the years.
“Dad never stopped dreaming and his passion was infectious,” son and company president Bill O’Loughlin said in the obituary. “He told us he was able to visualize a show’s feature attraction in color — down to the smallest detail. It drove some of us crazy when it came down to the execution, but in the end you knew there was method to the madness.”
Spanning four generations, the family-owned company has produced hundreds of consumer shows, including the Portland Home & Garden Show (65 years), Portland Boat Show (52 years) and the Pacific Northwest Sportsmen’s Show (37 years).
Today, three of O’Loughlin’s sons and a grandson — the third and fourth generations involved in the family-owned business — continue to produce a full calendar of the region’s top consumer events.