James “Jim” R. Kuse, 1931-2001, was the founder, Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of Georgia Gulf Corporation, a major manufacturer of commodity and specialty chemicals.
Jim was a graduate of Washington High School in Portland, and attended Oregon State University, majoring in Chemical Engineering. Jim began his career as a chemical salesman after serving in the army, after which he and Shirley married and started their family. Jim’s career eventually took him from Union Carbide in Chicago to the Georgia Pacific Corporation. In 1984 Jim arranged a leveraged buyout of Georgia Pacific’s chemical assets forming Georgia Gulf Corporation. Jim served Chairman from Georgia Gulf’s inception until his death in 2001, as CEO from 1985 to 1991, and as President from inception to 1989.
Shirley Kuse, 1931-2015, was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. She graduated from Franklin High School in 1949. She attended University of Oregon Medical School and became a medical technologist. When Jim's career brought them back to Portland, Shirley retired from the medical field to raise their four children. Shirley then became actively involved in volunteerism and philanthropy. She was passionate about her various organizations and instilled in her family the importance of giving back through involvement in one’s community.
In 1989, Jim and Shirley established a small family foundation, starting a legacy of charitable giving that has been continued by three generations of the Kuse family. Following the wishes of Shirley and Jim, all current trustees are actively involved with the charities they wish to support.