Vic Atiyeh, Oregon’s Republican governor from 1979 to 1987 who shepherded the state through a deep recession in the early 1980s, died Sunday night, a family spokesman says.
The 91-year-old former governor died at 8:15 p.m. PDT at Portland’s Providence St. Vincent Medical Center of complications from renal failure, according to spokesman Denny Miles, who had also formerly served as Atiyeh’s press secretary.
He said that Atiyeh was at home but had returned to the hospital Saturday due to shortness of breath and possible internal bleeding.
The son of a Lebanese immigrant, he worked as a rug salesman before he entered politics in the Oregon Legislature. He won the gubernatorial race in 1978 on a platform of cutting taxes.
In office, though, he ended up raising taxes because of the 1980s recession. But he was also remembered for cutting his own salary as governor three times to help balance the state’s budget.
Atiyeh lamented the poor roll of the dice that made him governor during a recession. No Republican has been elected governor of Oregon since Atiyeh left office.
I am deeply saddened by the passing of Governor Vic Atiyeh — a great Oregonian, an historic governor, and a remarkable human being. He was the first governor under whom I served when I was first elected to the Legislature in 1978, and he was both a mentor and a friend. He led Oregon out of the recession of the early 1980s, with a strategy embraced by both parties, and went on to make international trade a cornerstone of Oregon’s economy. He will be greatly missed, yet his steady leadership, gentle spirit, and love for our state lives on in the many contributions he made to Oregon