fb pixel

Log In

Reset Password

Frohnmayer, 74, dies; tributes pour in

PORTLAND — Dave Frohnmayer, a widely respected leader in Oregon politics and academics, has died at 74.

A statement from the family said Frohnmayer, who was born in Medford, died Monday night after "a quiet battle" for five years against prostate cancer.

Frohnmayer, a Republican, was a former attorney general, president of the University of Oregon and candidate for governor.

He served in the Legislature before he was elected attorney general in 1980, a job he held through three terms.

He ran for governor in 1990 but lost in a three-way race to Democrat Barbara Roberts.

Frohnmayer represented an old-school strain of Republican politics in Oregon, marked by moderation and liberalism in figures such as Tom McCall and Mark Hatfield that has been eclipsed in an era of sharper partisan differences.

"A giant has fallen," said longtime friend and law partner Bill Gray. "And Oregon and her citizens have lost a champion and we're all diminished by that."

After his career in elective office, he went to the University of Oregon, where he served as dean of the law school and then, for 15 years, as president of the school.

During that time he fought to restore dwindling state funding, enlisted the university in efforts to battle climate change, supported American Indian students building a longhouse on campus, and adopted the "O'' logo made famous by the football team for the entire university. He also lost a feud with Nike founder and Duck mega-booster Phil Knight over the athletic apparel company's labor practices.

As state attorney general in the 1980s, Frohnmayer prosecuted followers of Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh as they tried to establish a political power base on a commune outside the tiny high desert community of Antelope. At the time, authorities said his efforts earned him a spot on the group's hit list.

Tributes came from both sides of the political aisle as well as from the academic world.

Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, called him "my wonderful and brilliant friend." She said state flags would be at half-staff when a memorial service is held. No date has been announced

House Republican Leader Mike McLane cited Frohnmayer's "vast contributions to the state of Oregon" and said he would have a "legacy as a faithful public servant and advocate for the state and its people."

Scott Coltrane, the university's current interim president, said Frohnmayer had been a friend, colleague and adviser. He cited Frohnmayer's ability to "bring people together and build successful partnerships."

His family said he had been determined to keep his illness private, and "he was able to accomplish this and continue a full public schedule to the end."

Born in Medford, Frohnmayer graduated from Harvard and went on to Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. He earned his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley. He and his wife, Lynn, started a foundation to combat Fanconi anemia after the rare genetic blood disorder killed two of their daughters.

In addition to his wife, Frohnmayer is survived by children Mark, Johnathan and Amy, sister Mira and brother John, a former director of the National Endowment for the Arts and independent candidate for U.S. Senate.

In a Sept. 11, 2007, file photo, University of Oregon President Dave Frohnmayer delivers the keynote speech on tolerance at an interfaith breakfast on the campus of Northwest Christian College in Eugene. Frohnmayer, 74, a former Oregon attorney general and dean of the UO law school, died Monday, according to his family. AP photo