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Memorial service set Wednesday for former Gov. Atiyeh

Former Gov. Roberts, U.S. Rep. Walden among speakers.


Former Gov. Barbara Roberts, a Democrat, and U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, a Republican, will be among the speakers at a public memorial service for former Gov. Vic Atiyeh.

The service will start at 10 a.m. Wednesday in the House chamber at the Capitol in Salem. Seating will be in the House gallery and in legislative hearing rooms. Flags will fly at half-staff.

Gov. John Kitzhaber and first lady Cylvia Hayes will lead a long list of public officials in attendance.

Atiyeh, a Republican who was governor from 1979 to 1987, died July 20 of complications from renal failure at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland. He was 91.

Before his election as governor in 1978, Atiyeh had been in the Legislature 20 years, six in the House and 14 in the Senate, and six of those as Senate Republican leader. That’s still a record for an Oregon governor.

“For Gov. Atiyeh, the Capitol was a base for the 28 years of his public life,” said Denny Miles, the program host for the memorial service and former press secretary for Atiyeh. “He loved the Capitol building, its history and its place in Oregon politics. It is fitting for his final tribute to be held there.”

The desks he occupied while a representative and senator will have photos, flower displays and candles on them. He actually occupied three desks in the Senate chamber, but the tribute will be at his most recent desk.

Atiyeh himself gave generous tributes to two of his predecessors as governor during their memorial services in the House chamber — Tom McCall in 1983, when Atiyeh was starting his second term, and Bob Straub in 2002.

Roberts is a Democrat who was governor from 1991 to 1995. She was a state representative, House majority leader and secretary of state during Atiyeh’s years as governor.

Walden was chief of staff and press secretary for then-U.S. Rep. Denny Smith during Atiyeh’s years as governor. He was elected to the Oregon House in 1988 and appointed to the Oregon Senate in 1995. He won the 2nd District congressional seat in 1998.

Other scheduled speakers are Gerry Thompson, Atiyeh’s chief of staff for much of his two terms; state Sen. Jackie Winters, R-Salem, who was state ombudsman (now citizens’ representative) for Atiyeh from 1979 to 1981, and Atiyeh’s two children, Tom and Suzanne.

Chief Delvis Heath, representing the Warm Springs, Paiute and Wasco tribes, will attend on behalf of all Oregon tribes. One of Atiyeh’s final public appearances was at a dinner in June on the Warm Springs Reservation.

Also participating are the Pacific University Chamber Singers, directed by Scott Tuomi, the Cascade Pacific Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and honor guards of the Oregon State Police and Oregon National Guard.

In addition to his children, Atiyeh is survived by his wife of 70 years, Dolores; five grandchildren; a brother, Ed, and wife Karen, and three nieces.

A private funeral for family and close friends was held shortly after Atiyeh died.

A reception will follow the service in the Capitol galleria, where some items from the Atiyeh collection at Pacific University will be on display for about 10 days.

Among those confirming their attendance, in addition to those mentioned above, are:

• Former Gov. Ted Kulongoski, who as a Democratic state senator lost to Atiyeh in 1982, but was elected governor for two terms starting in 2002.

• U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley.

• U.S. Reps. Suzanne Bonamici, Earl Blumenauer and Kurt Schrader.

• Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem; House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland; Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli of John Day, and House Republican Leader Mike McLane of Powell Butte.

• State Treasurer Ted Wheeler, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian.

• Oregon Chief Justice Thomas Balmer.

• U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judges Diarmuid O’Scannlain and Edward Leavy.

pwong@PamplinMedia.com

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