A political icon in Oregon, Mark Hatfield, died on Sunday night at age 89. OPB reporter Chris Lehman reports on his life:
He was born in 1922 in Dallas, Oregon and attended high school in Salem.
In 1950, at the age of 28, he was elected to the Oregon House. Soon came a term in the Oregon Senate, then as Oregon Secretary of State… and then in 1958, he became the youngest person ever to be elected Oregon governor. He was just 36 years old.
By 1964, Hatfield was in the national spotlight enough to be chosen to deliver the keynote address at the Republican National Convention in San Francisco. He gave a preview of his speech for a television newsreel.
“This is the party of faith,” he said. “A faith that believes in the basic eternal moral values of the Judeo-Christian faith.”
Hatfield’s faith played a prominent role in his political career. He spoke of it often and wrote several books on the subject.
In 1966 Hatfield won the first of what would become five terms in the U.S. Senate.
Hatfield was a Republican, but often found himself at odds with his own party, especially because of his opposition to the Vietnam War.
You can read more about his time as chair of the Appropriations Committee and his influence in Oregon in Lehman’s story here.
What are your memories of Mark Hatfield? As governor, senator, teacher or friend? What’s the greatest impact you think he had on the state?