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Roberts cleared the way

Oregon lost one of its trail blazers on Saturday with the death of former state Supreme Court Justice Betty Roberts - a person who had more than a passing connection to East Multnomah County.

Roberts was on the leading edge of the women's movement of the 1960s and 1970s. She served in the Legislature at a time when Oregon was making a national mark for progressive measures, such as the beach and bottle bills and statewide land-use planning. She ran for governor and the U.S. Senate during an era when women were barely represented in such offices. And she eventually became the first female to serve on the Oregon Supreme Court.

Roberts started out her career right here in East County in the Centennial and Reynolds school districts. Her autobiography, 'With Grit and By Grace,' is sprinkled with anecdotes about local characters such as Mt. Hood Community College founders Poly and Betty Schedeen and former legislators Ross Morgan and Vern Cook. Her marriage to one of East County's longtime senators, Frank Roberts, ended in divorce, but Frank Roberts' second wife, Barbara, did go onto to become Oregon's first (and only) woman governor.

Through her professional endeavors, Betty Roberts helped clear the way for Barbara Roberts and many other women who've followed her along the path to more rewarding careers, both in and out of politics. She will be remembered for her public service, her determination, her clear mind and her willingness to challenge any barriers that stood between her and her goals.