Former 3-time Oregon attorney general Hardy Myers dies

Of the Associated Press

SALEM — Hardy Myers, a lawyer who became a politician in the Oregon Legislature in his 30s and rose to the position of House speaker, and then was elected state attorney general three times, has died at age 77.

He was remembered for defending Oregon's physician-assisted suicide law, a case that reached the U.S. Supreme Court, with Myers’ Senior Assistant Attorney General Robert Atkinson successfully arguing the case in 2005. Myers also championed litigation against tobacco companies — coincidentally he himself was a smoker — that brought in millions of dollars to Oregon, and still does.

Notes of praise and condolence poured in, including from Oregon's governor and its Senate president, after word spread that Myers had died Tuesday night in Portland from complications from pneumonia. He also had lung cancer.

Gov. Kate Brown said “Oregon lost a true statesman today,” calling him “a man of unquestionable integrity and commitment to the rule of law.”

Born in Mississippi and raised in the Central Oregon towns of Bend and Prineville, Myers returned to his birth state to earn an undergraduate degree from the University of Mississippi. He then graduated from the University of Oregon's law school.

He was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives in the 1974 election, representing a Portland district, and served there until 1985. He became speaker of the House in 1979.

Senate President Peter Courtney said in a statement that Myers was an inspiration.

“He taught me everything,” Courtney said. “He taught me to respect the institution. He taught me to respect the process. He taught me to respect other people and other viewpoints. He was a wonderful gentleman.”

Kristen Grainger, who served as Myers’ legislative director and communications director for six years, said he was very humble.

“He was the last to take credit and the first to shoulder blame,” said Grainger, who is now Brown's communications director. “Hardy embodied integrity. He viewed all aspects of public service through the lens of what best served Oregonians; what legacy the decisions he made would impart for future generations.”

When Myers was running for re-election as attorney general, his campaign manager borrowed a convertible from a car dealership for Myers to ride in at a Fourth of July parade, and the candidate made his staffer return it because the Department of Justice's consumer protection lawyers investigate those types of business, Grainger recalled.

“He just didn't think it was appropriate,” Grainger said.

Myers is survived by his wife, Mary Ann, their sons and grandchildren.

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