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Ex-Wood Village mayor dies at 81

Donald Lee Robertson served city for 37 consecutive years -


COURTESY PHOTO - Donald Lee Robertson (second from the right), enjoys a cruise with his wife, Shirley.Former Wood Village Mayor Donald Lee Robertson, who died Tuesday, Sept. 13, served his community as a volunteer public official for 37 uninterrupted years.

The cause of death was liver cancer, his family said. He was just two weeks shy of his 82nd birthday.

Robertson was first elected to an open position on the council in 1979, and served continuously until 1993, when he was selected as mayor by his fellow councilors. He remained the city’s chief elected official until he retired in 2000.

He helped lure big-names companies into the Village — including Wal-Mart, Fred Meyer and those at the Wood Village Town Center — and consistently named that achievement as one of his biggest accomplishments.

“I still don’t consider myself a politician,” Robertson told The Outlook in 2000. “And I never did like public speaking. Still don’t.”

The council’s first decision after his departure was to rename the city park in his honor. A staffer said a new sign is planned that will better highlight his legacy.

After leaving office, Robertson sustained his civic presence as an appointed member of the Budget Committee and Parks Commission until early 2016, when he was forced to resign due to his declining health.

His wife of 55 years, Shirley Robertson, said his best quality was his quiet grace and kindness.

FILE PHOTO - Donald Lee Robertson “He would do anything to help anybody,” she said. “He was a generous man with his time and his love.”

Born Sept. 24, 1934, in South Dakota, Robertson traveled to Wood Village with his eight siblings in 1952. He picked up shifts at former pig farm in Troutdale and Multnomah Greyhound Park after graduating from high school.

He later joined the U.S. Army and was discharged in 1959.

Two years later, he married Shirley, who was 18 at the time. The couple had a “big church wedding” and vacationed on the Oregon coast.

They had two children. A daughter, Debra, was born in 1965 and died of an accident six years later. Their son, Mark, was born in 1967.

Robertson was later hired by the Portland Public Schools District, and retired in 1991 as an asbestos abatement worker.

He was a faithful congregant at the Wood Village Baptist Church.

“I really valued his friendship. The city and all of us are better people because of who he has been,” said Bill Ehmann, the church’s pastor.

He also delivered meals as a volunteer at Legacy Mount. Hood Medical Center.

“He always tried to make every day a good day,” said Shirley. “It sounds kind of corny to a lot of people, but his pet name for me was always Dolly. He said I was perfect.”