The year was 1895. The place was Portland, Oregon. The industrial revolution had caught up with the far left corner of the country and Portland had never been busier. The port was bustling with ships loading the state’s bounty in agriculture and manufactured goods.

In the heart of the thriving city, the DeTemple tradition had begun. John DeTemple Sr. was working in the plumbing trade, having previously been employed by Clark Steamfitting and Donnerberg Plumbing as early as 1891. John DeTemple, Sr., who was raising a family of six boys and two girls on SE 13th Street, was sharing his residence with August Donnerberg, the second generation owner of Donnerberg Plumbing Co., founded in 1873. It was Donnerberg’s influence that led the DeTemples on their illustrious careers in the plumbing industry. Three of John’s sons, Fred, John Jr. and Walter, chose plumbing as a lifelong occupation, at various times hiring other DeTemple siblings to work here and there.

By 1907, the three DeTemple brothers had created a solid business and had a reputation for building intricate plumbing and steam heating systems for the architectural wonders that were springing up in the city’s center, and the marvelous new homes of Portland’s business and civic leaders.

"The best advertisement DeTemple Co. ever had was the city of Portland," said David B. Rice, MIS director, DeTemple Co. "Many of Portland’s offices, medical centers, schools and high-end housing have the DeTemple stamp." 

Because of the floods and fire during that era, DeTemple Co. moved several times between 1907 and 1933, finally leasing a building at 615 NW Couch St. for its office and workshop. The company remained there more than 40 years.
Walter DeTemple ran the business alone for 20 years after his brothers’ deaths. He worked 10-hour days — six hours on Saturday — and often put in time on Sundays. Maybe that’s why he was said to know the insides of most downtown Portland buildings as well as he knew his own home.

"Plumbers from rival companies would call him if they needed to know something about the plumbing setup in a particular building, Walter always helped them out," said Ray Soika, former DeTemple shop foreman. "He was a book of knowledge."

It has been over 125 years since John DeTemple Sr. started the DeTemple Plumbing and Heating tradition in Portland and watched his children follow in his footsteps. In 2000, the company president was Carl Rice Jr. whose father, Carl Rice Sr., succeeded Walter as leader of the company in 1973. Carl Rice, Sr. started working for the company in 1935 as the bookkeeper and was made a partner in 1945. His son came to DeTemple Co. in 1961 as an apprentice plumber working his way up through the trade.

* Information above from  Plumbing & Mechanical Engineer