Robert William (Bob) Straub was born in San Francisco, California on May 6, 1920. He earned both his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Science degrees in Business Administration at Dartmouth College. Straub served as a second lieutenant in the United States Army during World War II. He and his wife Pat were married in 1944 and had five children. He moved to Oregon in 1946 and became a builder and developer in Eugene.
Straub began his political career in 1954 as a member of the Lane County Board of Commissioners. Later he served as a state senator from Lane County from 1959 to 1963. Soon after he was elected to the Oregon State Senate, Straub voiced his concern about increases in air and water pollution and became identified as an enthusiastic proponent of natural resource management and conservation. He was well known for his favorable stance on the Oregon Beach Bill, defining Oregon beaches as public domain, and the Willamette Greenway Plan, making the Willamette River accessible to the public while making the river as pollution free as possible. Both of these bills were considered to be landmark environmental packages. Straub's anti-pollution legislation added to his reputation as a supporter of a green Oregon.
He was elected state treasurer in 1964 and served two terms. During his tenure as state treasurer, Straub earned a reputation of being fiscally conservative but innovative. He introduced modern business and investment practices, putting all of the state's money to work earning interest resulting in billions of dollars in revenue to pay for services for Oregonians.
Straub became governor on January 13, 1975 after defeating Republican Victor Atiyeh in the 1974 general election. He served until January 8, 1979. Governor Straub was instrumental in increasing direct property tax relief, utility rate relief for senior citizens, and strengthening land use laws and energy laws. He reorganized the Department of Human Resources to improve management of the social and health services in the state and appointed more women, handicapped, and minorities to head state agencies and division than any previous Oregon governor. Basic school support was increased and rehabilitation and employment of the handicapped was expanded during his administration. To diversify and expand Oregon's economy, Straub successfully recruited nonpolluting, labor intensive industries.
He retired from public life after his bid for a second term as governor failed in a 1978 rematch with Atiyeh. Straub owned farms in Springfield and Salem. He also owned a tree farm near Willamina and operated a ranch in Wheeler County.
In the late-1990s, Straub publicly announced his Alzheimer's Disease diagnosis in order to raise awareness of the disease. He died on November 27, 2002 in Springfield, Oregon from complications related to Alzheimer's Disease at the age of 82.
In 1987 Bob Straub State Park in Pacific City was named to honor his record as a defender of Oregon's beaches. Years earlier, he had led the successful opposition to a plan to reroute a section of U.S. Highway 101 across the scenic Nestucca Spit near Pacific City--an area that today is named Bob Straub State Park.
For information about records related to his tenure as governor, refer to the Bob Straub records finding aid.
(Sources: Oregon State Archives records guide | Oregon Blue Book, 1975-1978 | Oregon's Highway Park System, 1921-1989, Oregon State Parks, 1992)