Mark O. Hatfield was born in Dallas, Oregon, on July 12, 1922, to Charles Dolen and Dovie Odem Hatfield. Spending much of his youth in Salem, Hatfield developed an affinity for politics as he worked as a guide in the state Capitol. He went on to graduate with a B.A. from Willamette University in 1943 and an M.A. degree Stanford University in 1948.
From 1943 to 1946 Hatfield served in the United States Naval Reserve as a lieutenant junior grade. During World War II he served in the Pacific in landing craft operations. His trip into Hiroshima a month after the bomb had been dropped helped to form his views against nuclear war and nuclear weapons. After World War II he was assigned to French Indochina (Vietnam). This experience helped to shape his views about imperalism and colonialism and his later strong stand against the Vietnam War.
Hatfield taught political science and was dean of students at Willamette University in Salem from 1949 to 1956. He married Antoinette Kuzmanich on July 8, 1958 and had four children, Elizabeth, Mark Jr., Theresa and Visko.
Hatfield began his political career in the Oregon Legislature in 1951 where he served in the House of Representatives from 1951 to 1955 and in the Senate from 1955 to 1957. He became the youngest Secretary of State in Oregon history in 1957, holding that office for two years until he was elected governor in 1958. Hatfield, a Republican, defeated the Democratic incumbent Robert D. Holmes and served as Oregon governor from January 12, 1959 to January 9, 1967.
Among the major accomplishments of Hatfield's administration were the passage of a tax cut in 1959, the establishment of a state-backed birth control system, the prohibition of capital punishment in the state, and the reapportionment of the state's congressional districts. Hatfield was reelected in 1962, defeating Democratic challenger Robert Y. Thornton.
Hatfield held the office of U.S. Senator from Oregon from 1967 to 1996, making him the longest serving Oregon Senator in history. He consistently voted against military appropriations, voted to end the war in Vietnam, co-sponsored a nuclear freeze resolution with Senator Edward Kennedy and called for a Code of Conduct to regulate U.S. arms sales. Senator Hatfield twice served as chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, a position he used to steer more than 3 billion dollars of funding for a variety of public projects in Oregon. Among the recipients were Oregon Health & Science University and the MAX light rail system in Portland. He was the second-most senior Republican Senator at the time of his retirement.
Over the years after leaving the U.S. Senate, Hatfield taught at George Fox University in Newberg and at the Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University. He also served on the Oregon Health & Science University board of directors for several years.
Numerous institutions, buildings, and public resources are named in his honor, including the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, the Mark O. Hatfield Library at Willamette University in Salem, the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse in Portland, and the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness Area in the Columbia River Gorge.
He died in Portland on August 7, 2011 at the age of 89 after a long illness.
(Sources: Oregon State Archives guide; OregonLive.com obituary)