Frank L. Roberts

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Frank Roberts
Frank L Roberts PSU.jpg
First Gentleman of Oregon
In office
January 14, 1991 – October 31, 1993
Governor Barbara Roberts
Preceded by Margaret Goldschmidt (1990)
Succeeded by Sharon LaCroix Kitzhaber (1995)
Member of the Oregon Senate
from the 9th district
In office
Preceded by Thomas R. Mahoney
Succeeded by Randy Leonard
Member of the Oregon House of Representatives
from the 6th district
In office
Preceded by candidates elected at-large
Succeeded by Glenn Otto
Personal details
Born (1915-12-28)December 28, 1915
Boise, Idaho
Died October 31, 1993(1993-10-31) (aged 77)
Salem, Oregon
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Mary Louise Roberts (1943–1960)
Betty Roberts (1960–1965)
Barbara Roberts (1974–1993; his death)
Children Mary Wendy Roberts
Leslie Roberts
Profession Politician

Frank Livezey Roberts (December 28, 1915 – October 31, 1993) was an American politician from the state of Oregon. A Democrat, Roberts served in both houses of the Oregon Legislative Assembly. He served two terms in the Oregon House of Representatives and most of five terms in the Oregon Senate before resigning due to poor health. Roberts was married three times, including to Barbara Roberts, who was the first woman to serve as Governor of Oregon, and to Betty Roberts, who was the first woman to serve as a justice of the Oregon Supreme Court.

Early life and career[edit]

Roberts was born in Boise, Idaho, in 1915 to Walter Scott and Mary Livezey Roberts. He received a bachelor's degree from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon in 1938.[1] In 1943, he married Mary Louise Charleson. Later that year, he earned a master's degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.[1][2] In 1946, he was hired as a speech professor at Vanport College (later renamed Portland State University). He earned a doctorate from Stanford University in 1954.[1]

Roberts and his wife Mary Louise had two daughters, Mary Wendy Roberts and Leslie Roberts. The couple divorced prior to 1960, the year Frank married Betty Cantrell Rice, then a single mother of four and teacher in Portland.[1][3]

Early political career[edit]

In 1960, Roberts was elected chairman of the Multnomah County Democratic Party. He ran unsuccessfully for the Oregon State Senate in 1962, but was successful in his second attempt at elective office, winning a seat in the Oregon House of Representatives in 1966. He was re-elected to a second term, but in 1970, redistricting forced him to run in another district and he lost in the Democratic primary.[1][4] Roberts again unsuccessfully sought election to the Oregon House in 1972, but when an open Senate seat was available in 1974, he was elected to the first of six four-year terms representing District 4 in Portland. At the time of his retirement in 1993, Roberts was the longest-serving Oregon legislator.[1]

As a legislator, Roberts served on the Ways and Means Committee. He worked to expand social service programs for the poor, disabled, and elderly, expanding Head Start Programs to more children, and funding more medical care programs, such as prenatal care, to the poor.[1]

Later career[edit]

Roberts and his second wife, Betty Roberts, divorced in 1965. She was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives in 1964, and was later elected to the Oregon State Senate in 1969.[1] In 1974, she ran unsuccessfully for both Governor of Oregon and as a replacement candidate for U.S. Senate. Betty later resigned from the Oregon Senate when she was appointed as a judge on the Oregon Court of Appeals, and later was the first woman to serve on the Oregon Supreme Court.[1]

Frank Roberts' daughter, Mary Wendy Roberts, also served in the Oregon House from 1973–75 and the State Senate from 1975–79, and served alongside her father and stepmother, Betty, for several years before being elected into statewide office as Commissioner of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries.[1][4] Frank and Mary Wendy were the first, and to date, only, father-daughter team to serve simultaneously in the Oregon Legislative Assembly.[5]

In 1971, Roberts met Barbara Hughey Sanders, a single mother with an autistic son, who was lobbying for the right of disabled students to attend public schools. Roberts sponsored Sanders' bill, and befriended and married her in 1974. Barbara Roberts was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives in 1980, Oregon Secretary of State in 1984 and 1988, and became Oregon's 34th governor in 1990.[1][5]

Later life[edit]

Roberts had a heart attack in 1984, and was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1987. Radiation treatment for his cancer destroyed the nerves in his legs and rendered him unable to walk. In 1993, with his cancer spread to his lungs, Roberts, then the longest-serving member of the Oregon Legislative Assembly, resigned from the Oregon Senate on September 1. He died at Mahonia Hall, Oregon's governor's residence, on October 31.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Walth, Brent (November 1, 1993). "Roberts succumbs to cancer". The Register-Guard. Retrieved November 10, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Vows pledged in church". The Oregonian. February 7, 1943. Sec.2 p.3. 
  3. ^ Wong, Peter (June 9, 2008). "Roberts broke down barriers for women". Statesman Journal. Archived from the original on April 4, 2018. Retrieved April 4, 2018. (Subscription required (help)). closed access publication – behind paywall
  4. ^ a b "State Government Legislators and Staff". Oregon Secretary of State. Retrieved November 10, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "Roberts "dynasty" ends after 30 years". The Register-Guard. January 10, 1995. Retrieved November 10, 2011.