Macheezmo Mouse Chairman Dies In Plane Crash

Sunday, November 28th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A float plane piloted by the head of a Mexican health food restaurant chain carrying his three sons crashed into the Columbia River, killing all aboard.

William S. "Tiger" Warren, the 48-year-old chairman of Portland-based Macheezmo Mouse, was flying to the family's summer home in Washington with his three sons -- Jack, 14; Will, 13; and Rob, 9 -- after a Thanksgiving gathering, family members said. All four were killed in the crash.

The plane went down about 3 p.m. Saturday near the Washington side of the river, about 45 miles east of Portland, shortly after it left the water and began climbing into the sky, said Dave Cox, spokesman for the Skamania County sheriff's office.

"Witnesses said the plane was taking off, banking sharply to the left," Cox said, "and then went down."

Dive teams on Saturday retrieved two bodies -- a man believed to be Warren and a child -- but have not yet removed the other two bodies. Warren's 8-year-old daughter, Lucy, had stayed behind in Oregon with her mother, Geraldine, who was divorced from Warren and now is married to Portland stockbroker H. Gerald Bidwell.

Warren, his ex-wife and Bidwell had just emerged from a long ordeal in court as witnesses against a disgruntled investor who blamed Bidwell for a $50,000 stock loss. Daniel Loren Jenkins Jr. was convicted Nov. 19 of soliciting aggravated murder for calling Warren and offering to "whack" Bidwell if Warren would pay him for it. Warren immediately called police. Evidence and testimony at trial showed that Jenkins had stalked the Bidwells for months, made harassing phone calls, sent death threats via e-mail and threatened the lives of their six children -- including the four children of Warren and his ex-wife.

Gerald Bidwell told The Oregonian shortly after the family learned about the crash that his wife was completely devastated.

"She will miss them very much," Bidwell said. "Fate can be cruel."

Warren and his wife were in the middle of what had become a bitter divorce in 1994 when he took Macheezmo Mouse public, turning his shares into a $9.2 million investment in one day. But the chain of 13 Mexican-style restaurants since has struggled. Last year, the company, which hit a high of about $11 a share when it went public, was trading for just pennies recently. Warren, who also had a short career making films, was a friend of Portland filmmaker Gus Van Zant, who said the name for the restaurant chain was actually a nickname for Warren.

"He was very macho but wasn't very big," Van Zant said. "He had a great ability to talk to anybody. He was a great guy."