Robert Straub, 82; Democratic Governor of Oregon 1975-1979
Robert William Straub, Oregon’s Democratic governor from 1975 to 1979, died late Wednesday at a long-term care facility in Springfield, Ore. He was 82.
Straub, who also made an unsuccessful bid for U.S. Congress, had battled Alzheimer’s disease for three years, said his son, Mike.
Straub was elected governor in 1974. He was credited with reducing Oregon’s unemployment rate and with hiring more women, minority and disabled people in top government positions than any governor before him. As governor, he rechanneled freeway money into mass transit, jump-starting Portland’s light-rail system.
In his previous job as state treasurer, Straub invested public retirement funds in the stock market -- a move that reaped billions of dollars in revenue and allowed hundreds of public employees to retire in unprecedented comfort.
Straub became known for his support for the environment, backing conservation efforts and worrying about increases in air and water pollution. He also supported a bill that defined Oregon beaches as public domain.
In his bid for reelection in 1978, Straub fell victim to a increasingly conservative mood of voters in the West. That same year, Proposition 13, which cut property taxes in California, passed, and Straub’s opposition to it and a similar measure in Oregon did not help his campaign.
Straub was born in San Francisco in 1920, and was raised in a staunchly Republican household. He served in the Army during World War II, and received undergraduate and graduate degrees in business from Dartmouth College in the 1940s.
He moved to Oregon after the war, and worked as an executive with the Weyerhauser Timber Co. and as a building contractor before entering politics.
In addition to his son, Straub is survived by his wife, Pat.