Victor G. Atiyeh

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Victor G. Atiyeh
Victor G. Atiyeh 2012.jpg
Atiyeh in 2012
32nd Governor of Oregon
In office
January 8, 1979 – January 12, 1987
Preceded by Robert Straub
Succeeded by Neil Goldschmidt
Member of the Oregon State Senate
In office
Member of the Oregon House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born Victor George Atiyeh
(1923-02-20)February 20, 1923
Portland, Oregon, U.S.
Died July 20, 2014(2014-07-20) (aged 91)
Portland, Oregon, U.S.
Resting place River View Cemetery Portland, Oregon
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Dolores Hewitt (m.1944–2014; his death)
Alma mater University of Oregon

Victor George "Vic" Atiyeh (February 20, 1923 – July 20, 2014) was an American politician and member of the Republican Party who served as the 32nd Governor of Oregon from 1979 to 1987. The first elected governor of Arab descent in the United States,[1][2] 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.[1] Prior to being elected Governor, Atiyeh had served continuously in the Oregon Legislature since 1959, initially in the House and later in the Senate. As of 2015, Atiyeh is the last Republican to have served as the governor of Oregon.[3]

Early life

The son of Syrian immigrants, Atiyeh grew up in Portland, attending Holladay Grade School and Washington High School.[4] 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.[5] When his father died Atiyeh dropped out of college and took over his family's rug and carpet business, Atiyeh Brothers.[5][6]

Political career

Governor Atiyeh (2nd from left) meeting with delegation in Oregon State Capitol, 1980

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.[7] In 1974, he ran for governor and lost to Democrat Robert W. Straub.[8] 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.[8] 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.[7]

Atiyeh in 1986

As governor, Atiyeh established new public safety programs for Oregon's traditional fishing and lumber trades.[8] 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.[8] He launched a worldwide tourism initiative and worked towards the designation of the Columbia River Gorge as a national scenic preservation area.[7]

Atiyeh helped to establish a statewide food bank, which was the nation's first.[7] He also worked to raise awareness of the dangers of drunk driving and signed new laws against the practice.[5][8] He chaired the Republican Governors Association and was the Republican National Convention's floor leader for President Ronald Reagan in 1984.[9]

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.[10]

Later life

After leaving office, Atiyeh became an international trade consultant.[5] 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.[11]

On July 20, 2014, Atiyeh died of renal failure at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, which was contracted after a fall he sustained at his home on July 5. He was 91.[12]

Personal life

Atiyeh lived in Portland with his wife, Dolores Hewitt (née Hewitt), whom he married on July 5, 1944.[5][13] Atiyeh and his wife have two children, Tom and Suzanne,[14] and five grandchildren, Megan, Sonia, Cody, Jimmy and Becky.[citation needed]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Senate Joint Resolution 24: Oregon Laws 2005". Oregon Legislature. August 3, 2005. Retrieved December 10, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Harsham, Philip; Azzi, Robert (March–April 1975). "Arabs in America: The Native Sons". Saudi Aramco World. 6 (2). Retrieved September 8, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Oregon : Past Governors Bios". National Governors Association. 2011. Retrieved December 28, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Mapes, Jeff (July 20, 2014). "Republican Vic Atiyeh, who guided Oregon through economic upheaval, dies at 91". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2014-07-21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 "Governor Victor G. Atiyeh's Administration: Biographical Note". Oregon Secretary of State. Retrieved December 28, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "History". Atiyeh Bros. Retrieved December 28, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 "Hon. Victor G. Atiyeh". Ellis Island Medals of Honor. NECO, Inc. Archived from the original on March 2, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 "Governor Victor G. Atiyeh". Focus. Oregon Historical Society. Retrieved December 4, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Roberts, Steven V. (August 23, 1984). "Convention in Dallas: The Republicans; Some Republican Governors Fear Reagan is Ignoring Them". The New York Times. Retrieved December 28, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Lang, Joe (May 25, 2011). "Former Oregon Governor Vic Atiyeh donates collection of memorabilia to Pacific University Library". The Oregonian. Retrieved December 10, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Nike co-founder backs Measure 49 with $100,000". KGW. Associated Press. October 6, 2007. Archived from the original on January 7, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. PDT July 20, 2014. "Former Oregon Governor Vic Atiyeh dead at 91". Retrieved 2014-07-21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Pacific University Archives Exhibits | * Victor Atiyeh Collection * : Dolores Atiyeh". Retrieved 2014-07-21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Dolores Atiyeh". Victor Atiyeh Collection. Pacific University Archives. Retrieved December 28, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Robert Straub
Governor of Oregon
Succeeded by
Neil Goldschmidt