Victor “Vic” Atiyeh, Oregon’s 32nd governor and the nation’s first Arab-American governor, died Sunday night when he succumbed to renal failure at a Portland hospital.
Atiyeh turned 91 in February. He served two terms as Oregon governor, from 1979 to 1987. He had fallen in his Washington County home July 5 and injured his ribs.
Known for his hands-on style of leadership and ability to work both sides of the political aisle, Atiyeh both cut budgets and increased taxes to keep the state afloat during the national economic recession that Oregon weathered longer than most states. After his first year in office, Atiyeh faced double-digit unemployment in the state.
He was also considered ahead of his time in diversity, appointing the first woman to serve on the Oregon Supreme Court.
Read the whole thing here: Victor Atiyeh, 1st Arab-American Governor, Dies in Oregon
Vic Atiyeh was governor of Oregon almost the whole time I lived in the state. Since I was a young liberal and he was a Republican, I thought he was awful back then, but as you can see from this obituary, he was an old-school Republican from before the party went off the rails. Raised taxes! Why I never!
I have one very fond memory of him. I flew from Portland to Los Angeles, and the pilot told us the Governor of Oregon was with us (up in first class). About 10 minutes before we were due to land, the pilot said they were having trouble getting the landing gear down. There were several tense minutes before he told us they had succeeded, and much applause when we landed. I saw the governor in the baggage claim area and asked for his autograph on my ticket folder. He wrote, ‘We made it! Vic Atiyeh’. I still have it.