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Oral history interview with George H. Bell
- 1994-10-31 - 1994-11-21 (Creation)
.1 cubic feet 4 audiocassettes (3 hr., 55 min., 27 sec.)
Name of creator
George Herbert Bell was born in California in 1927. Around 1930, his family moved to Klamath Falls, Oregon, where his father worked in a lumber mill throughout the Depression. Bell enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1945, just after graduating from high school, and he served in the Pacific Theater during World War II. After his discharge in 1948, he studied English at Southern Oregon College. He continued his education at the University of California Los Angeles, where he earned a master's degree. He met Trubee Wetterau while at Southern Oregon College, and they were married in 1949. They later had one child and divorced in 1960. Bell was a member of the faculty at Southern Oregon College for many years, then a political reporter for the Medford Mail Tribune. In 1963, he and Sarah Ellen Groves were married; that same year, he joined the staff at the Oregonian newspaper in Portland. He left in 1965 to become assistant to the president of the Senate and the speaker of the House. He then joined KGW-TV as editor and later anchor for the daily noon news show. In 1970, he and Sarah divorced, and in 1971, he and Frances "Frankie" Hargis were married. In 1972, when Clay Myers was appointed secretary of state by Governor Tom McCall, Myers hired Bell as his deputy secretary of state, a position Bell held until 1979. He then served as assistant director of the Oregon Department of Transportation under Governor Vic Atiyeh until 1987. Governor Neil Goldschmidt later appointed him to the Board of Trustees of the Oregon State Library. He continued to be active in many civic organizations until his death in 2015.
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This oral history interview with George Bell was conducted by Vinita Howard from October 31 to November 21, 1994. In this interview, Bell discusses his family background and early life in Klamath Falls, Oregon. He briefly discusses his experience in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific Theater during World War II, then goes on to describe his college experience at Southern Oregon College and U.C.L.A. He describes his early career as a high school teacher and college professor, and then the beginnings of his career in journalism at the Medford Mail Tribune and the Oregonian. He then discusses serving as assistant to the president of the state Senate and the speaker of the state House in 1965, including some of the legislation that came up during that session. He also talks about working alongside Monte Montgomery and Harry Boivin. He talks about his next career change, which was working for KGW-TV, first as a day editor and later as a news anchor. Next, he discusses serving as deputy secretary of state under Clay Myers from 1972 to 1979. He also briefly discusses each of his three marriages. Bell talks about serving as assistant director of the Oregon Department of Transportation under Governor Vic Atiyeh, including the department's efforts to boost tourism and the movie industry in the state, funding problems, and working under Glenn Jackson. He goes on to discuss his views on various Oregon political figures, including Mark Hatfield. He closes the interview by discussing his activities during retirement, particularly creative writing.
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Copyright is held by the Oregon Historical Society. Licensed under Creative Commons, BY-NC-SA: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/
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Preferred citation: Oral history interview with George H. Bell, by Vinita Howard, SR 1169, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
Forms part of the Oregon Legislature Oral History Series.
Typescript index (15 pages) is available for in-person use at the Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
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Finding aid based on DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard), 2nd Edition.