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Terry Schrunk

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Terry Schrunk
44th Mayor of Portland, Oregon
In office
January 1, 1957 – January 1, 1973
Preceded byFred L. Peterson
Succeeded byNeil Goldschmidt
26th President of the United States Conference of Mayors
In office
Preceded byJoseph M. Barr
Succeeded byJack D. Maltester
Sheriff of Multnomah County, Oregon
In office
Preceded byM. L. Elliott
Personal details
Born(1913-03-10)March 10, 1913
Stayton, Oregon, U.S.
DiedMarch 4, 1975(1975-03-04) (aged 61)
Portland, Oregon, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic

Terrence Doyle Schrunk (March 10, 1913 – March 4, 1975)[1] was an American politician who served as the mayor for the city of Portland, Oregon, 1957–1973, a length tying with George Luis Baker, who also served 16 years (1917–1933).[2][3]

Schrunk was appointed sheriff of Multnomah County in 1949 by the county commissioners, succeeding M. L. Elliott, who was removed from office in a recall election. Schrunk was subsequently outright elected to the office,[4][1][5]

In his 1956 campaign for mayor, Schrunk advocated for urban renewal.[6] Schrunk beat incumbent Fred L. Peterson by 17,000 votes in a nine-person primary, but did not get an absolute majority, and then beat Peterson in the fall run-off election. He took office at midnight on January 1, 1957.[7]

In 1968 and 1969, he served as president of the United States Conference of Mayors.[8]

Terry's son, Mike Schrunk, was elected district attorney of Multnomah County in 1981, and is thought to be the longest-serving district attorney in Oregon history.

Schrunk when serving as sheriff in 1956


Terry Schrunk Plaza in Portland, Oregon.

In mid-twentieth-century Portland, gambling dens, brothels, and unlicensed bars operated virtually uninhibited by police as long as vice racketeers paid scheduled kickbacks to key city law enforcement officials.[9]

Schrunk was elected mayor with Teamsters union support, allegedly in part because the incumbent Republican mayor, Fred Peterson, offended the union when he wouldn't oust Police chief J. Bardell Purcell. The Teamsters felt that Purcell impeded their drive to open a wider vice business in Portland.[10]

In 1957 he appeared as himself in the CBS documentary film A Day Called X and on September 2 of that year, as reported by the Oregonian on its September 4, 1957, edition, was seen in the front seat of a Lincoln convertible as he and the then biggest star in the world of music, the 22-year-old Elvis Presley saluted the 14,600 fans waiting for his concert to start at Providence Park (known at that time as Multnomah Stadium).

An allegation against Mayor Schrunk soon landed him before the special Senate committee headed by Arkansas Democrat John McClellan investigating U.S. labor racketeering in March 1957. While still sheriff in September 1955, Schrunk and his deputies had raided the 8212 Club, a gambling and after-hours drinking joint financed by Portland Racketeer James B. Elkins. Elkins testified that the manager, Clifford Bennett, told him he had paid Schrunk $500, and the sheriff had gone away without causing any more trouble—except for arresting a few drunks. Although Bennett refused to testify, several others confirmed pieces of the story. Schrunk flatly denied having taken bribes from Bennett. But he did admit that his deputies had raided the 8212 Club, seen liquor being illegally served after hours, spotted gambling equipment all over the place—and that he had gone away without taking further action.[10]

Robert F. Kennedy, then the lead attorney for the Senate committee, came to Portland to testify against him. Jurors acquitted Schrunk in less than two hours.[11]

Three years later, Kennedy was managing his brother, Senator John F. Kennedy's, presidential campaign, with Oregon one of seven primaries that JFK entered. Kennedy's pursuit of Schrunk had angered enough Oregon Democrats that some of JFK's key supporters persuaded Kennedy operative Joseph S. Miller to ask Senator Kennedy to keep his younger brother out of Oregon. Although JFK largely accepted the advice, Miller's bluntness angered both brothers.[12] Continued resentment by Schrunk and his supporters was seen as a contributing factor to Robert Kennedy losing the Oregon Democratic Primary to Eugene McCarthy in May 1968.

In 1968 and 1969, he served as the president of the United States Conference of Mayors.[13]

Schrunk was initiated as a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity at Portland State University.[14]

Schrunk suffered a heart attack in October 1972 while at City Hall and was taken to the hospital where he survived.[15]

Schrunk died after suffering another heart attack in 1975, at age 61.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Cogswell, Philip (2008). "Terry Schrunk (1913–1975)". The Oregon Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2014-05-17.
  2. ^ "Multnomah County, Oregon Government | Portland Oregon Mayors". genealogytrails.com. Archived from the original on 2008-07-20. Retrieved 2015-06-04.
  3. ^ "Office of the mayor". freepages.history.rootsweb.com. Retrieved 2015-06-04.
  4. ^ "Electorate Disregards Party Affiliations in Elliott Recall Issue: Five Appear to Lead Field As Successor to M. L. Elliott". The Oregonian. October 23, 1949.
  5. ^ Boone, June. Portland of years past: 25 years ago: 1978 a Julia Child she isn't. The Oregonian, July 10, 2003.
  6. ^ Frank, Ryan. Urban renewal fact check. The Oregonian, May 30, 2006.
  7. ^ "Schrunk Sworn In As Mayor" (January 1, 1957). The Oregonian, p. 1.
  8. ^ "Leadership". The United States Conference of Mayors. November 23, 2016. Archived from the original on February 15, 2019. Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  9. ^ Robert C. Donnelly (Fall 2003). "Organizing Portland, Organized Crime, Municipal Corruption, and the Teamsters Union". Oregon Historical Quarterly. 104 (3).
  10. ^ a b "INVESTIGATIONS: The Teamsters Take Over". Time. March 18, 1957. Archived from the original on November 2, 2012.
  11. ^ Griffin, Anna; Arthur Gregg Sulzberger (March 21, 2009). "Influential Multnomah County prosecutor guards his privacy". The Oregonian. Archived from the original on March 22, 2009. Retrieved March 23, 2009.
  12. ^ Miller, Joseph S. (2008)The Wicked Wine of Democracy, University of WA Press, pp 131-132.
  13. ^ "Leadership". The United States Conference of Mayors. November 23, 2016. Archived from the original on February 15, 2019. Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  14. ^ "Tekes in Politics" (PDF). The Teke. Vol. 105, no. 3. Tau Kappa Epsilon. Summer 2012. pp. 12–13. Retrieved December 1, 2023.
  15. ^ Sullivan, Ann (October 17, 1972). "Training credited with saving mayor's life". The Oregonian. p. 10.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Mayor of Portland, Oregon
Succeeded by