James Cassan, owner of CMC Investments Inc., a Dollar Rent A Car licensee with locations in Seattle and Portland, died on Dec. 13. He was 18 days shy of his 84th birthday.
Cassan was born Dec. 31, 1939, in Portales, N.M., to Dora (Wichman) and Arthur Cassan. After graduating from Portales High School in 1957, he attended Boise Junior College, where he played on the football team. After the untimely death of both of his parents, Cassan transferred to New Mexico State University. On Christmas day in 1960, he met Doris Scott, and they married six months later.
Cassan earned degrees in civil engineering from New Mexico State University. He was a member of the faculty at Michigan Technological University and Lehigh University in the civil engineering departments. A setback during his PhD dissertation defense at the University of Michigan caused Cassan to redirect and accept a job at the Boeing Co. in Seattle, as a member of the SST development team. In 1967, he and Doris moved to Mercer Island with their two young sons.
Sensing that his time on the SST project was coming to an end, Cassan looked for new opportunities for supporting his family. In 1968, he and Doris opened the first Dollar Rent A Car franchise in Seattle, and in 1973 they purchased the Portland, Ore., franchise. Beginning with a fleet of only five Volkswagens in 1967, they opened the first Dollar Rent A Car franchise outside of California.
Doris served as one of the original board members with ACTIF (Association for Car and Truck Rental Independents and Franchises), which has since become part of the American Car Rental Association (ACRA). She received the 2014 Russell Bruno Award for outstanding service to the auto rental industry.
Cassan is survived by his wife of 62 years, Doris; sons Todd (Michele) and Curt Cassan; daughter Traci Granbois (son-in-law Andy); and six grandchildren: Wyatt, Beckett, and Sam Cassan and Colette, Hudson, and Georgia Granbois.
A life-long learner, Cassan loved talking with people and learning about what interested them. He believed in pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps and not making excuses. He was driven by the power of potential, in himself and those around him.
A celebration of life will be held on Saturday Feb. 24 at 2 p.m. at Encounter Church (formerly Mercer Island Covenant Church) in Mercer Island, Wash.