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Cameo Café’s Charlie Lehn succumbs


Charlie Lehn
Submitted Photo
Charles Anthony Lehn passed away on Nov. 7, 2006, after a long fight with lymphoma cancer. He was 72.

He was born on Oct. 31, 1934, in Bridgeport, Conn., where he spent his life until moving to the Portland, Ore., and Vancouver, Wash., area in 1981 with his family. Friends and relatives knew him as Charlie.

Lehn operated two — at one time three — Cameo Café restaurants in Portland, Ore., and Vancouver, Wash., with his wife, Sue Gee Lehn.

Lehn served in the U.S. Army in Germany. Following his military service, Lehn became one of the youngest master tradesmen in Connecticut and began a successful plumbing and heating company. In 1968 Lehn operated mortgage and real estate companies and built office buildings, apartments and condominiums throughout the northeast U.S.

In the late 1970s and 1980s he co-founded Frozen Seafood Specialties Inc. and formed the Alaska American Fish Corp. As president of Alaska American Fish Corp., he formed the first international joint venture oyster and mussel import business between the U.S. and South Korean governments, and also entered into a partnership with Japan and Thailand.

For his contributions to the northwest Portland community, he received the Northwest Examiner newspaper’s Lifetime Achievement Award in September 2006.

Lehn is survived by his wife of 27 years, Sue Gee; daughter Kimberly and fiancé Owen; son Sang and wife Hae-jin; and granddaughter Hannah.

A funeral mass was held Nov. 15 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in northwest Portland. A committal service was held at Mt. Calvary Catholic Cemetery.

Contributions in his memory may be made to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

The Memo spoke with Lehn’s widow, Sue Gee, recently.

She spoke in a hushed tone regarding the years of care she gave Charlie while he battled cancer.

Sue Gee said that she spent countless hours taking care of her late husband, forgoing the usual brisk pace of taking care of their businesses.

The Lehns closed the Cameo West Restaurant location in northwest Portland, but the Northeast 82nd Avenue and Sandy Boulevard location, along with the Vancouver location, are still in full operation, Sue Gee said.

“I love my customers and employees,” Sue Gee said, “and they have been so loyal.” She said that during the time Charlie was ill and she was taking care of him, customers at the Cameo would ask about her during her absence.

Sue Gee now intends to focus on both restaurants with renewed vigor.
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