Former Oregon Gov. Vic Atiyeh dies at 91

Former governor remembered for crossing the aisle during tough economic times.
By Matt Bradwell  |  July 21, 2014 at 11:42 AM
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PORTLAND, Ore., July 21 (UPI) -- The family of former Oregon Governor Vic Atiyeh confirmed the 91-year-old died Sunday night from renal failure.

Atiyeh was first admitted to Portland's Providence St. Vincent Medical Center after injuring his ribs in a falling incident on July 5. After being sent home, Atiyeh had to return to the hospital Saturday for bleeding in his esophagus and stomach, ultimately succumbing to renal failure.

A standout college football player at the University of Oregon and son of a Syrian immigrant, Atiyeh was both the first Arab-American to be elected governor in the United States and last Republican to serve as governor of Oregon.

Atiyeh served from 1979 to 1988, first being elected during one of the worst economic recessions in Oregon's history.

The small-business-owner-turned-politician defined his legacy guiding Oregon through the tough times with moderate policies that drew praise and criticism from all sides of the aisle. Despite slashing the state budget and cutting state jobs, Atiyeh consistently raised taxes in an effort to balance the budget.

"He led Oregon out of the recession of the early 1980s, with a strategy embraced by both parties, and went on to make international trade a cornerstone of Oregon's economy," praised Oregon Democrat Gov. John Kitzhaber in a statement.

"[Vic Atiyeh] will be greatly missed, yet his steady leadership, gentle spirit, and love for our state lives on in the many contributions he made to Oregon."

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