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It’s the 100th anniversary of the birth of Oregon political icon Mark Hatfield

Governor Mark Hatfield curring ribbon to celebrate the completion of Interstate-5 through Medford, Oregon in 1962.
OHS Research
Oregon Historical Society
Governor Mark Hatfield cutting the ribbon to celebrate the completion of Interstate 5 through Medford, Oregon in 1962.

Mark Hatfield, one of the most iconic figures in Oregon political history, would have turned 100 years old Tuesday.

Hatfield was born in Dallas, Oregon on July 12, 1922. After serving with the U.S. Navy in World War II, Hatfield returned to Oregon and was elected to the Oregon House, and later the Senate. Then, he was elected Oregon Secretary of State, and later, Oregon governor.

In 1966, Hatfield—a Republican—was elected to the U-S Senate, where he served for 30 years. He retired in 1996, having never lost an election in a 46-year political career.

He died in 2011. His name adorns a host of Oregon landmarks and institutions.

In one of his final public appearances, Hatfield addressed Oregon lawmakers on the first day of the 2007 legislative session.

"Years from now Oregonians will not remember how many members of this House of Representatives were Republicans or Democrats," he said. "Rather, what they will remember is whether or not you were men and women of good will, men and women who were Oregonians first, and politicians and partisans second."

Also that day, Hatfield administered the oath of office to then state representative Jeff Merkley. The Democrat was being sworn in as Speaker of the Oregon House. The next year, Merkley won election to the U.S. Senate, where he still serves.

As part of the centennial, the Oregon Historical Society is releasing a series of oral history interviews with Hatfield. They were off-limits to the public until Hatfield’s 100th birthday.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December 2018 and became News Director in March 2023. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”