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Jul-20-2014 22:07printcomments

Former Oregon Governor Vic Atiyeh Dead at 91

Atiyeh, was the first Arab-American governor in the country.

Victor G Vic Atiyeh
Former Oregon Governor Victor G. "Vic" Atiyeh succumbed to renal failure at a Portland hospital his spokesman said. Photo Courtesy:

(PORTLAND, Ore. ) - Former Oregon Governor Victor G. "Vic" Atiyeh succumbed to renal failure at a Portland hospital his spokesman said.

Atiyeh, a Republican, was the state's 32nd Governor, and served two terms from 1979 to 1987.

Atiyeh was admitted Saturday for bleeding in his esophagus and stomach, which required him to have a breathing tube inserted and be sedated. Denny Miles, the former governor's press secretary and current family spokesman, said his condition deteriorated throughout the weekend, and he died at 8:15 p.m.

He was re-elected against future governor Ted Kulongoski with 61.6 percent of the vote in 1982, the largest margin in 32 years. As of 2014, Atiyeh is the last Republican to serve as governor of Oregon.

Atiyeh served as a member of the Oregon House of Representatives from 1959 to 1964 and in the Oregon State Senate from 1965 to 1978.

In 1974, he ran for governor and lost to Robert W. Straub. Atiyeh ran against Straub again in the 1978 election, but won this time with 55 percent of the vote.

In November 1982, he won re-election to a second four-year term, winning by the largest margin in 32 years for a gubernatorial election in Oregon.

Atiyeh in 1986, as governor, Atiyeh established new public safety programs for Oregon's traditional fishing and lumber trades. He provided incentives to bring new industries to the state to diversify the economy, including the opening of a trade office in Tokyo, Japan, Oregon's first overseas trade office.

He launched a worldwide tourism initiative and worked towards the designation of the Columbia River Gorge as a national scenic preservation area.

Atiyeh helped to establish a statewide food bank, which was the nation's first. He also worked to raise awareness of the dangers of drunk driving and signed new laws against the practice.

He chaired the Republican Governors Association and was the Republican National Convention's floor leader for President Ronald Reagan in 1984.

There was no word on when funeral services would be held.

Current Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber said:

“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.”

State Treasurer Ted Wheeler said on Facebook:

Governor Vic Atiyeh. A great Oregonian, a long-time friend of my late father. I will always value the time I spent w/ the Governor. He gave me solid advice on leadership which I hope I can live up to. My condolences to his family and friends.

Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley issued the following statement after the passing of former Oregon Governor Vic Atiyeh on Sunday.

“I’m saddened to learn of the passing of former Governor Vic Atiyeh, an accomplished governor, a proud Oregonian, and an honorable man. A strong leader who constantly challenged policy-makers to do what would best serve Oregon, Gov. Atiyeh consistently reached out across the aisle, getting things done for the state on a bipartisan basis. Gov. Atiyeh was a true Oregon statesman who always looked out for the well-being of Oregonians.

“My wife Mary and I send our thoughts and condolences to his family. All Oregonians share a profound sense of loss for Gov. Atiyeh – we will remember his dedication and thoughtfulness as we recall all he did for the state.”

Some of the information in this story provided by Wikipedia

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