Name and location of repository
Level of description
Oral history interview with Gerry Frank
- 1988-05-25 - 1990-05-02 (Creation)
.1 cubic feet; 13 audiocassettes (10 hr., 32 min., 42 sec.)
Name of creator
Gerald "Gerry" Wendell Frank was born in Portland, Oregon, in 1923. He attended Stanford University, where he enrolled in the Reserve Officer Training Corps. He was called to active duty in the U.S. Army in 1943, and served in the European theater during World War II. During his Army training in California, he studied engineering at Loyola University. After his discharge in 1945, he remained in England and attended Cambridge University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in economics and a master's degree in politics.
After graduating, he returned to Portland and worked at the family business, the Meier & Frank department store. He opened and managed the Meier & Frank store in Salem, Oregon, in 1955. After the sale of Meier & Frank in 1965, Frank became involved with Mark Hatfield's political career, eventually becoming the senator's chief of staff. In 1981, he opened a dessert shop in Salem called Gerry Frank's Konditorei. He was a longtime contributor to the Oregonian newspaper and also authored a guidebook to Oregon, entitled "Gerry Frank's Oregon."
Frank died in March 2022.
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Scope and content
This oral history interview with Gerry Frank was conducted by Jim Strassmaier at Frank's office in Salem, Oregon, from May 25, 1988, to May 2, 1990. In this interview, Frank discusses his family background and early life in Portland, Oregon, including his early education and the Meier & Frank department store, his family's business. He talks briefly about attending Stanford University, then discusses his Army service in Europe during World War II and his studies at Cambridge University in England. He talks about returning to Portland to work at Meier & Frank.
Frank speaks at length about Mark Hatfield's family background and early life. He talks about Hatfield's early political career, spirituality, and marriage to Antoinette Kuzmanich. He talks about the 1965 sale of Meier & Frank, and his subsequent deeper involvement with Hatfield's political career. He discusses his economic planning work on the Governor's Advisory Committee, working with Glenn Jackson, and the Republican Party in Oregon. He talks about Hatfield's elections; Hatfield's brush with the vice presidential nomination in 1968; and Hatfield's working relationships with Oregon state legislators. He describes Hatfield's opposition to the Vietnam War, as well of some of Hatfield's other controversial positions. He then talks about going to Washington, D.C., his duties as a member of Hatfield's staff, and other members of Hatfield's staff. He also talks about the conflict between Hatfield's liberal views and the increasing conservatism of the Republican Party. He speaks at length about running Hatfield's office, including managing correspondence and staff, and contracting with the Herman Miller company for furniture. He discusses the ways in which Hatfield remains connected to his constituency; the areas in which he disagrees with Hatfield; and how they handled a real estate scandal during Hatfield's 1984 re-election campaign. He discusses his personal activities, including writing an Oregon guidebook and his involvement with various organizations. He closes the interview by talking about how he first became acquainted with Mark Hatfield; Hatfield's political agenda; and issues contemporary to the interview session in 1990, including environmental concerns about logging and the proposed division of the Ninth Circuit Court.
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Conditions governing access
Joint copyright for this interview is held by the Oregon Historical Society and Willamette University. Use is allowed according to the following license: Creative Commons - BY-NC-SA: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/
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Related archival materials
Additional oral history interviews with Gerry Frank, SR 2994 and SR 1002, are also held at Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
Preferred citation: Oral history interview with Gerry Frank, by Jim Strassmaier, SR 1324, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
Forms part of the Senator Mark O. Hatfield Oral History Project.
Incomplete transcript (81 pages) is available for in-person use at the Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
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Rules or conventions
Finding aid based on DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard), 2nd Edition.