|32nd Governor of Oregon|
January 8, 1979 – January 12, 1987
|Preceded by||Bob Straub|
|Succeeded by||Neil Goldschmidt|
|Member of the Oregon State Senate|
from the 9th district
|Member of the|
Oregon House of Representatives
from Washington County
Victor George Atiyeh
February 20, 1923
Portland, Oregon, U.S.
|Died||July 20, 2014 (aged 91)|
West Haven-Sylvan, Oregon, U.S.
|Resting place||River View Cemetery|
|Education||University of Oregon|
Victor George Atiyeh (//; February 20, 1923 – July 20, 2014) was an American politician who served as the 32nd Governor of Oregon from 1979 to 1987. He was also the first elected governor of Syrian descent in the United States.
Atiyeh was elected in 1978, defeating incumbent Democratic Governor Robert W. Straub. He was re-elected against future Governor Ted Kulongoski with 61.6% of the vote in 1982, the largest margin in 32 years. Prior to being elected Governor, Atiyeh had served continuously in the Oregon Legislature since 1959, initially in the House and later in the Senate. To date, Atiyeh is the last Republican to have served as the governor of Oregon.
Atiyeh's parents, George Atiyeh and Linda Asly, immigrated to the United States from Al Husn, Syria and Beirut, Lebanon respectively. Atiyeh's father came through Ellis Island in 1898 to join his brother Aziz's carpet business. Atiyeh's mother's family belonged to the Antiochian Orthodox Church though Atiyeh would join the Episcopal Church later in life.
Atiyeh grew up in Portland, Oregon, attending Holladay Grade School and Washington High School. He spent two years at the University of Oregon in Eugene, where he played guard for the Oregon Ducks football program and became a regional leader in the Boy Scouts of America. When his father died, Atiyeh dropped out of college and took over his family's rug and carpet business, Atiyeh Brothers.
Governor of Oregon
In 1974, Atiyeh ran for governor and lost to Democrat Robert W. Straub. After defeating former governor Tom McCall in the primary, Atiyeh ran against Straub again in the 1978 election, but won this time with 55 percent of the vote. He was the first Arab American to be elected as a U.S. governor. In 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.
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 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.
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.
After leaving office, Atiyeh became an international trade consultant.
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.
Atiyeh lived in Portland with his wife, Dolores (née Hewitt), whom he married on July 5, 1944. They had two children, Tom and Suzanne. Dolores Atiyeh died on August 29, 2016, in Portland at the age of 92.
Health and death
On August 31, 2005, Atiyeh 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.
On July 5, 2014, Atiyeh fell at his home. He was admitted again to Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, where he was treated for internal bleeding; while he was briefly released, he was re-hospitalized after incurring an adverse reaction to pain medication, and died from kidney failure on July 20, at age 91.
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- "Pacific University Archives Exhibits | * Victor Atiyeh Collection * : Dolores Atiyeh". Exhibits.lib.pacificu.edu. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
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- Currie, Carrie McAlice; Staver, Anna (July 21, 2014). "Former Oregon Governor Vic Atiyeh dead at 91". Statesman Journal. Salem, Oregon. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
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