Victor G. Atiyeh
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|32nd Governor of Oregon|
January 8, 1979 – January 12, 1987
|Preceded by||Robert Straub|
|Succeeded by||Neil Goldschmidt|
February 20, 1923 |
Portland, Oregon, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of Oregon|
Victor George Atiyeh (born February 20, 1923) is an American politician, elected the 32nd Governor of Oregon in 1978. A member of the Republican Party, Atiyeh was the first elected governor of Arab descent in the United States. He served as Governor for eight years, from 1979 through 1987. 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 2013, Atiyeh is the last Republican to serve as governor of Oregon.
Early life 
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. He ran unsuccessfully for Governor in 1974 but beat incumbent Bob Straub in 1978, attracting 55 percent of the vote. He was reelected in 1982 by Oregon's largest gubernatorial margin in 32 years.
He established new public safety programs for Oregon's traditional fishing and lumber trades. He took measures to attract new industries to the state, bringing thousands of jobs. He initiated the state's lottery. He launched a worldwide tourism initiative, and worked towards the designation of the Columbia River Gorge as a national scenic preservation area. He led successful international trade missions, opening Oregon's first overseas trade office in Tokyo.
He helped to establish the nation's first statewide food bank. His Advisory Committee on DUI heightened public awareness of this crime, and he signed new laws against drunken driving. He chaired the Republican Governors Association and was the Republican National Convention's floor leader for Ronald Reagan in 1984.
Volunteer and charitable work 
Atiyeh had a long relationship with Forest Grove-based Pacific University, serving as a trustee and trustee emeritus and accepting an honorary doctorate from the university in 1996. He donated a trove of his memorabilia to the university library in 2011.
Later life 
After leaving office, Atiyeh became an international trade consultant. On August 31, 2005, he underwent quadruple bypass surgery; he drove himself to St. Vincent Medical Center after suffering chest pains. Atiyeh was noted for his fiscal conservatism; his spokesman noted that he had stopped on his way to the hospital to fill his car with gas, having observed the sharply rising prices. In the weeks following the surgery, Atiyeh was readmitted to the hospital for several brief stays after suffering shortness of breath and pain in his arms.
In 2006, Atiyeh co-chaired the "Yes on 49" campaign, supporting Ballot Measure 49, along with Democratic former governor Barbara Roberts, former and future governor John Kitzhaber, and then-governor Ted Kulongoski. He solicited a $100,000 donation to the campaign from Phil Knight, CEO of Nike.
Personal life 
Atiyeh currently lives in Portland with his wife Dolores. Atiyeh and his wife have two children, Tom and Suzanne, and five grandchildren, Megan, Sonia, Cody, Jimmy, and Becky.
- Directs Port of Portland to rename Portland International Airport, Oregon Legislature, July 6, 2005. Accessed September 8, 2007.
- Philip Harsham and Robert Azzi. Arabs in America: The Native Sons. Saudi Aramco World. March/April 1975. Accessed September 8, 2007.
- Ellis Island Medals of Honourwww.neco.org/awards/recipients/atiyeh_victor.html
- Oregon Historical Societywww.ohs.org/education/focus/governor_victor_atiyeh.cfm
- "Former Oregon Governor Vic Atiyeh donates collection of memorabilia to Pacific University Library," May 25,2011, The Oregonian
- Associated Press (October 6, 2007). "Nike co-founder backs Measure 49 with $100,000". KGW.
- Records of Governor Victor G. Atiyeh's Administration (January 8, 1979 - January 12, 1987) from the Oregon State Archives
- Biography on Oregon Historical Society website
|Governor of Oregon