Republican lawmaker held sway in Senate for 30 years
Former U.S. Sen. Mark O. Hatfield was remembered Sunday evening as a 'man of conviction and vision' who left his mark on state and federal government and Oregon Health and Science University.
The Oregonian newspaper reported that Hatfield died at about 6 p.m. Sunday in Portland. He was 89 and reportedly had been in ill health for some time.
The former Oregon governor, who never lost a statewide election, represented the state in the U.S. Senate for 30 years. He was one of the longest serving senators in history and was the senior Republican in the Senate when he retired in 1996.
Hatfield was one of a few Republican senators who opposed the Vietnam War during the 1960s and 1970s.
Gov. John Kitzhaber said 'no one has had a more profound impact on Oregon in the last half century than Mark Hatfield.' The governor also ordered flags across the state lowered to half staff in honor of Hatfield's passing.
Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden said the state and the nation had lost 'one of its former giants' in Hatfield.
'Sen. Hatfield was never one to be driven by party affiliation or ideological litmus tests. He was religious but not intolerant; idealistic but not naïve; a politician but not partisan. He was willing to stand alone, but never one to grandstand.'
Sen. Jeff Merkley, a Portland Democrat who was an intern in Hatfield's office, said the former senator should be remembered 'for his bipartisan and gracious diplomacy' in this time of bitter partisanship.
Democrats and Republicans alike issued remembrances and tributes to Hatfield upon his death, a mark of his ability to inspire enemies and allies.
'He was the essence of bi-partisanship. He was always working with his own party and the Democrats to get things done,' said Kerry Tymchuck, executive director of the Oregon Historical Society. 'He was the original Hatfield Republican.'
During his political life, Hatfield juggled the state's competing economic and political interests, patching together support from the state's timber industry with the desires of conservationists.
Hatfield's legacy includes support for OHSU, where the research center was named in his honor. Hatfield's name also graces Oregon's federal courthouse and Oregon State University's marine science center. The library at Willamette University in Salem was named in Hatfield's honor.
The Clinical Research Center at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., also is named for Hatfield.
Hatfield was born to a Democratic father and Republican mother July 12, 1922, in Dallas, Ore., before moving to Salem early in his childhood. Hatfield earned an undergraduate degree from Willamette University before entering the Navy to serve during the World War II.
After returning from the war, Hatfield earned his masters degree in political science from Stanford and began his foray into Oregon politics.
After serving as both a state representative and state senator, Hatfield became the Oregon's youngest Secretary of State in 1957 at the age of 34. Just two years later, Hatfield became governor, a position he held for two terms.
After completing his stint as governor, Hatfield won the election to serve in the U.S. Senate in 1967, a position he held until retiring in 1997. In his entire political career, Hatfield never lost an election.