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Mark Hatfield

Mark Hatfield grew up in Salem, served eight years as governor and thirty years as United States senator. He contributed the following essay in response to a request for some memories of his life in Salem.

"One of my favorite memories of growing up in Salem is the 1930 United States presidential election. My family was one of the few that (displayed) in our window a poster to "Reelect Herbert Hoover." I remember the great disappointment when my candidate lost.

I also remember  watching the great event of the Capitol fire in 1935.  The rebuilding of the new Capitol is also memorable.

As a student at Willamette University, I was a Capitol guide on Sunday afternoons. When there was a lull between visitors, I (used) the master key that opened all the doors in the building and went into the Governor's Office. I sat in the Governor's chair and thought that I'd like to sit there (as governor) someday.

The Centennial Celebration of Salem in 1940 is a fond memory. I also vividly remember my participation in the  Salem High School marching band. We congregated in election years and played at the Torchlight Parades and rallies for both the Republican and Democratic parties. I do remember playing my clarinet much stronger at the Republican rallies.

All of these events led up to my idea of a career in public service. Living in the state capital was most fortuitous. When my day was complete at Salem High School, I traveled to the Capitol to sit in the cafeteria and talk with the legislators and the Governor. My teachers encouraged my interest in politics. All of these influences built my enthusiasm for a public career.

The differences I perceive of life in Salem today is that we walked much more in those days. We traveled on foot everywhere we went. Also, all the business leaders were involved in community and public affairs. The town cobbler was also the mayor. The car dealership owner hosted political events. There was much more sense of community and involvement in civic affairs.

We appreciated our teachers more then. If we got in trouble in school, we knew we would be in trouble at home. Relationships were stronger and more evident in my days growing up in Salem.

I treasure my time in Salem and have a strong sense of pride of living in Salem, as do all of us who hold that high honor."

Mark Odom Hatfield was born in Dallas, Oregon on July 12, 1922, the only child of Charles Dolen Hatfield, a railroad construction blacksmith, and his wife Dovie Odom Hatfield, a schoolteacher. In the early 1930s the Hatfields moved to Salem where he completed his elementary and high school education in the public schools. 

Following his graduation from Salem High School in 1940, Hatfield enrolled at Willamette University as a political science major. After obtaining his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1943, he joined the United States Navy. Assigned to a landing craft in the Pacific, he took part in the battles at Iwo Jima and Okinawa. He was one of the first Americans to see the devastation at Hiroshima.

After his discharge from the military, he obtained a Masters degree in Political Science at Stanford University. Returning to Salem he became a member of the faculty at Willamette University where he was named Dean of Students.

He won a seat in the state House of Representatives in 1950, was elected to the state Senate in 1954, and began a term as Oregon Secretary of State in 1956. In 1958, he was elected as Governor - the youngest person to serve as governor in Oregon.  In 1966 he won a seat in the United States Senate, a position he retained until his retirement in 1996.

Senator Hatfield no longer makes his home in Salem, but visits here often and takes part in local civic activities. His affection for his hometown is evident.

Compiled by Virginia Green.

Senator Mark O. Hatfield provided information used in this article.


Mark Hatfield
Mark Hatfield
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Governor Hatfield during a visit by President Nixon.
Governor Hatfield during a visit by President Nixon.
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