Series SR 1106 - Oral history interview with Debbs Potts

Photograph of Debbs Potts [Image 01] Photograph of Debbs Potts [Image 02] Photograph of Debbs Potts [Image 03] Oral history interview with Debbs Potts [Sound Recording 01] Oral history interview with Debbs Potts [Sound Recording 02] Oral history interview with Debbs Potts [Sound Recording 03] Oral history interview with Debbs Potts [Sound Recording 04] Oral history interview with Debbs Potts [Sound Recording 05] Oral history interview with Debbs Potts [Sound Recording 06] Oral history interview with Debbs Potts [Sound Recording 07] Oral history interview with Debbs Potts [Sound Recording 08] Oral history interview with Debbs Potts [Sound Recording 09] Oral history interview with Debbs Potts [Sound Recording 10] Oral history interview with Debbs Potts [Sound Recording 11] Oral history interview with Debbs Potts [Sound Recording 12] Oral history interview with Debbs Potts [Sound Recording 13] Oral history interview with Debbs Potts [Sound Recording 14] Oral history interview with Debbs Potts [Sound Recording 15] Oral history interview with Debbs Potts [Sound Recording 16] Oral history interview with Debbs Potts [Sound Recording 17] Oral history interview with Debbs Potts [Sound Recording 18] Oral history interview with Debbs Potts [Sound Recording 19] Oral history interview with Debbs Potts [Sound Recording 20] Oral history interview with Debbs Potts [Sound Recording 21] Oral history interview with Debbs Potts [Sound Recording 22] Oral history interview with Debbs Potts [Sound Recording 23] Oral history interview with Debbs Potts [Sound Recording 24] Oral history interview with Debbs Potts [Sound Recording 25]

Identity elements

Reference code

SR 1106

Name and location of repository

Level of description

Series

Title

Oral history interview with Debbs Potts

Date(s)

  • 1991-04-15 - 1991-05-28 (Creation)

Extent

.1 cubic feet 14 audiocassettes (12 hr., 16 min., 59 sec.) + 3 photographs (black and white, 5 x 7 in.)

Name of creator

(1908-2003)

Biographical history

Eugene Debbs Potts was born in Buzzard Roost, California, and was named after the political activist Eugene V. Debs. Many documents record Potts' date of birth as 1909 or 1910, but Potts asserts he was born in 1908 because that's what was written in his family Bible. His family came to Oregon soon after he was born, and he grew up in Eastern Oregon. He began working in a sawmill at age 12. He served in the Navy during World War II, remaining in the Navy Reserves for nearly 20 years afterward. He later owned sawmills in Grants Pass and the Klamath Falls area, and also founded the town of Pottsville, Oregon. He was a Democratic politician and was elected mayor of Grants Pass in 1958. He then represented Josephine County in the Oregon Senate from 1961 to 1972. After redistricting, he represented Josephine and Jackson counties from 1973 to 1984. He also served as Senate president from 1967 to 1970, during which time he temporarily acted as governor when Governor Tom McCall was out of state, totaling 196 days. After he left the Senate, Potts was appointed by Governor Vic Atiyeh to chair the Oregon Lottery Commission, a position he held from 1985 to 2003. He was married twice. He died in 2003, shortly after retiring from the lottery commission.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

This oral history interview with Debbs Potts was conducted by James Strassmaier in a Super 8 Motel in Grants Pass, Oregon, and at an ExecuLodge in Salem, Oregon, from April 15, 1991, to May 28, 1991. In the interview, Potts discusses his family background and early life in Eastern Oregon, including his family's religious life, his education in one-room schools, and working various jobs as a young teenager. He also talks about the sawmill business, including owning and operating various sawmills. He then discusses his marriage to Bobbye Irene Michael, including their attempts to adopt children. Potts talks about his service in the U.S. Navy during World War II, including his training and life on a ship. He also discusses his time as mayor of Grants Pass from 1958 to 1960.

Potts then discusses serving in the state Senate from 1961 to 1984. He talks about his involvement with the Democratic Party; several prominent Democrats, including Harry Boivin and Jason Boe; and his early committee assignments, particularly the Ways and Means Committee. He discusses his campaigns, legislative procedure, and interpersonal politics. He also talks about legislation that came up during his tenure, including on taxes, reapportionment, and education. He discusses working with other legislators, including Monte Montgomery, Ben Musa, Lynn Newbry, and Ed Fadeley. Potts talks about serving as president of the Senate from 1967 to 1970, including the process of getting elected to that position, having Cecil Edwards as his secretary, and the duties of the president. He also discusses working with different governors' administrations, the Senate presidency of Jason Boe, and partisan politics. Potts talks briefly about his faith and his adopted children. He closes the interview with a discussion on his activities after serving in the Legislature, including running the Oregon Lottery.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

Collection is open for research.

Physical access

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

Copyright is held by the Oregon Historical Society. Licensed under: Creative Commons, BY-NC-SA: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/

Languages of the material

  • English

Scripts of the material

Language and script notes

Finding aids

Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history

Immediate source of acquisition

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information

Accruals

Related materials elements

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related archival materials

Related descriptions

Notes element

General note

Preferred citation: Oral history interview with Debbs Potts, by Jim Strassmaier, SR 1106, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

General note

Forms part of the Oregon Legislature Oral History Series.

General note

Incomplete transcript (319 pages) available for in-person use at the Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

Specialized notes

Alternative identifier(s)

Description control element

Rules or conventions

Finding aid based on DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard), 2nd Edition.

Sources used

Archivist's note

Sarah Stroman

Access points

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Accession area