Celebrating Mark O. Hatfield’s 100th and his Legacy

PORTLAND, Ore. — A celebration in downtown Portland on Tuesday morning will honor Mark O. Hatfield, who died in 2011 after a long illness.  It comes on what would have been the former Oregon Senator and Governor’s 100th birthday.

Former Oregon Governors Barbara Roberts and Ted Kulongoski will speak at the party about their memories of Hatfield, at the Oregon Historical Society’s pavilion, at 1200 S.W. Park Avenue, starting at 11 A.M.

O.H.S. Boyle Family Executive Director Kerry Tymchuk, will share his memories of working with Senator Hatfield.  “I am one of hundreds of Oregonians who served as a college intern in Senator Hatfield’s office and am incredibly fortunate to have called him a mentor and a friend,” said Tymchuk.  “In these often-polarizing times, let us all remember these words of Senator Hatfield: ‘All of us need each other, all of us must lift and pull others as we rise, all of us must rise together — powerful, free, one self-determined people.'”

The program will also include remarks from Oregon Health & Science University President Dr. Danny Jacobs, about the senator’s impact on OHSU.  Willamette University board secretary Sean O’Hollaren will officially announce the opening of the Hatfield Archives at Willamette University.  Attendees can enjoy root beer floats — Senator Hatfield’s favorite — with Salt & Straw donating the ice cream.

The republican risked his chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee in 1995, by voting against his party, and a balanced budget amendment, saying he voted his conscience.  “We should not put the effort to find courage in the Constitution.  That should be something out of the character of people.”

He also explained, “I led a few rebel horses in the party on occasion.  I think it’s healthy. I like diversity in the party.”

Historian Dr. Chris Nichols, who’s served on the Board of Trustees for the Historical Society, and as an interviewer for its Mark O. Hatfield Lecture Series, explains why Hatfield’s legacy is so important.  “He served Oregon as a senator, a state senator, secretary of state, governor, so lots of different roles.  And he really pushed hard for his constituents in ways that we sometimes don’t see now,” said Nichols.  He says Hatfield’s style of leadership is rare in the current political climate.  “Mark Hatfield really believed in public service.  And not being so much an agent of a party and more, being called to service for their nation.”

Admission to the Oregon Historical Society’s museum will be free all day.  The traveling exhibit, “The Call of Public Service: The Life and Legacy of Mark O. Hatfield,” which premiered at O.H.S. one year ago on July 12, 2021, before traveling to museums and heritage organizations around the state, will also be back on view at O.H.S.  It focuses on the lasting impression the senator had on Oregon and the nation.  It features three pop-up kiosks that highlight the issues Hatfield championed: healthcare, education, equal rights, the environment, and world peace.

The centennial celebration also coincides with the release of the senator’s official oral history, which was restricted from public release until Hatfield’s 100th birthday.  The Hatfield interviews are part of a decades-long O.H.S. initiative, the Oregon Legislature Oral History Project, which was conducted between the late 1980s and early 2000s and documents the stories of state officials who served between about 1960 and 1998.  The senator’s interviews will go live on the O.H.S. Digital Collections website today, alongside 24 oral history interviews with Hatfield’s congressional aides, staff, and advisors that are currently available on O.H.S. Digital Collections.

In a 46-year career in elected office, Mark O. Hatfield earned a reputation as one of the most respected and influential politicians in Oregon’s history. First elected as an Oregon State Representative in 1950 at the age of 28, Hatfield never lost an election and would go on to serve Oregon as a state senator, secretary of state, governor, and a United States senator.

More about: