Accounting alum Leo Kahn leaves a legacy of generosity

Leo Kahn ‘64, a distinguished figure in accounting and philanthropy, left behind a legacy of dedication to higher education. A recent estate gift left by Leo and Phyllis Kahn will support accounting students within the PSU School of Business.

Early Beginnings and Professional Journey

Kahn's personal journey in overcoming obstacles early in life defined personal and professional success with resilience and determination. In reflecting on her husband, who passed in 2022, Phyllis emphasizes Leo’s profound empathy for those facing challenges.

"He had a difficult childhood and raised himself away from home when he was only twelve years old. He put himself through college and was always thankful for graduating from Portland State," she said.

Kahn established his accounting practice in 1969, establishing his business near the iconic St. John's Bridge. Leo’s practice grew thanks to his desire to cultivate strong relationships with individuals and businesses, many of whom were his clients and close friends for decades to come.

Phyllis and Leo KhanA Trusted Advisor and Advocate

A client and a family friend for over 50 years, Brent Baldwin, met Leo as a kid when his dad was Leo’s client. Brent describes Leo as a trusted advisor who guided financial decisions with expertise and perseverance.

"Leo's legacy as an accountant is marked by precision, integrity, and a genuine resolve to ensure his clients' success," said Baldwin.

Phyllis fondly remembers Leo's love for his work and his clients. “He was very dedicated to his work and he was passionate about what he did,” she said. “Leo would spend countless hours studying case histories and crafting arguments to protect his client’s interests. His commitment to his clients went beyond financial transactions — his clients loved him.”

Community Engagement and Philanthropy

Leo was deeply involved in the community, supporting local initiatives and prioritizing educational programs. Throughout his career, he was a mentor to many. He would have loved to have been around to support students in their pursuit of accounting careers, a field that had brought him success and fulfillment.

“Education was paramount to him. Leo cherished his time at PSU and believed fervently in the power of higher education,” said Phyllis.

Together, Leo and Phyllis included a generous provision for PSU in their estate plans — a gift that will ultimately fund scholarships for accounting students and funds for the Viking Women’s softball team. This legacy continues to serve as an inspiration, encouraging others to carry forward Leo’s vision of a better, more compassionate world.

For more information about making a planned gift, please contact Julie Feely, Senior Director of Planned Giving, at 503-725-6942,