Gretchen Kafoury

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Gretchen Kafoury
Portland City Commissioner
In office
Preceded byBob Koch
Succeeded byDan Saltzman
ConstituencyPortland, Oregon
Multnomah County Commissioner
In office
Member of the Oregon House of Representatives
from the 13th district
In office
Preceded byStephen Kafoury
Succeeded byEd Leek
Personal details
Gretchen Miller

June 23, 1942
Walla Walla, Washington, U.S.
DiedMarch 13, 2015(2015-03-13) (aged 72)
Portland, Oregon, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic

Gretchen Miller Kafoury (June 23, 1942 – March 13, 2015) was an American politician, who served in the Oregon House of Representatives, the Multnomah County Commission, and the Portland City Council. She served in the legislature from 1977–82, the Multnomah County Commission from 1985–91, and the Portland City Council from 1991-98.[1][2]

Gretchen Miller met and married Stephen Kafoury while attending Whitman College in the early 1960s. She graduated from Whitman in 1963,[3] with a Music degree.[4] The couple moved to Portland in 1965,[5] but soon afterward they joined the Peace Corps, and Gretchen Kafoury spent two years in Iran, teaching English as a Peace Corps volunteer. They returned to Portland in 1967, and Gretchen Kafoury became a teacher at Portland State University.[3]

Kafoury co-founded the Oregon chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1970 and the Oregon Women's Political Caucus in 1971.[6] In 1972, she was one of a small group of women (also including Mildred Schwab[7]) who protested the City Club of Portland's policy excluding women members, effecting a change in the club's policy of more than fifty years.[8]

By 1975, Gretchen and Stephen Kafoury had divorced, but Gretchen continued to use her married name.[9] She subsequently married two more times,[10] her last marriage ending in 1998,[11] but continued to use the name Gretchen Kafoury or Gretchen Miller Kafoury.

Gretchen Kafoury's ex-husband, Stephen Kafoury, preceded her in the legislature, and her daughter Deborah Kafoury served two terms there as well, including one as minority leader.[12]

She was elected to the Portland City Council in 1990,[5] and served on the council from 1991 to 1998.[13]

Beginning in 1999, Kafoury was an instructor at Portland State University, teaching classes related to homelessness, poverty, and community development.[14]

She died on March 13, 2015, aged 72, of natural causes at her Portland home. She was survived by her daughters, Deborah and Katharine Kafoury.[4][13]


  1. ^ Slovic, Beth (April 18, 2012). "For women, history shows winning office in Portland is no easy task". The Oregonian. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  2. ^ Oregon Blue Book, 1979
  3. ^ a b Anthony, Roger (December 28, 1998). "After 30 years in politics, Kafoury lets go Kafoury: She still ponders solutions for the issues of life". The Oregonian. p. B1.
  4. ^ a b Jaquiss, Nigel (March 13, 2015). "Gretchen Kafoury Dies At 72". Willamette Week. Retrieved March 16, 2015.
  5. ^ a b "Who are they? [Biographies of candidates]". The Oregonian. May 10, 1994. p. B2.
  6. ^ Guide to the Gretchen Kafoury Papers 1971-1983,; accessed March 15, 2015.
  7. ^ "Mildred Schwab". City of Portland. March 26, 2007. Archived from the original on April 29, 2011. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  8. ^ Cole, Michelle (September 22, 2011). "How far have women come in Oregon politics? Not as far as you'd think". The Oregonian.
  9. ^ Federman, Stan (November 9, 1975). "Political roundup: Five seats open on Appeals Court". The Sunday Oregonian. p. C7.
  10. ^ Duin, Steve (September 29, 1991). "From triple bogey to par for the course". The Oregonian. p. B1.
  11. ^ "Gretchen Miller (Kafoury) [self-written bio]". WW High School - Class of 1959. Walla Walla, Washington. Archived from the original on March 16, 2015. Retrieved March 16, 2015.
  12. ^ Redden, Jim (August 3, 2001). "Dynasty shines for the left". Portland Tribune. Archived from the original on February 16, 2013.
  13. ^ a b Bottomly, Therese (March 13, 2015). "Gretchen Kafoury, longtime Oregon political leader, dies at 72". The Oregonian. Retrieved March 16, 2015.
  14. ^ "Gretchen Kafoury Biographical Statement". Archived from the original on April 23, 2012. Retrieved April 21, 2012.

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