Betty Cantrell Roberts (1923-2011)

Betty Roberts, an educator, politician, and first woman on sit on the Oregon Supreme Court, has died at her home in Portland from pulmonary fibrosis. She was 88 years old.

Roberts was born in Kansas and raised in Texas. After graduating from high school, Robert enrolled at Texas Wesleyan University. But with the onset of World War II she dropped out of college and married a soldier. After the war the couple moved to Oregon. She attended Eastern Oregon College and then graduated from Portland State University. She went on to earn a master’s degree in political science at the University of Oregon and a law degree from Lewis and Clark Law School.

She pursued a doctorate in political science at the University of Oregon but in her autobiography, With Grit and Grace: Breaking Trails in Politics and Law (Oregon University Press, 2008), Robert reports that she was denied the degree by a chauvinistic faculty member.

Roberts taught at Mount Hood Community College in Gresham, Oregon, from 1967 to 1976. During this time she served in both the Oregon House and the Oregon Senate. She also ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate and for governor of Oregon. In 1977 she became the first woman appointed to Oregon Court of Appeals. She served until 1982 when she was named the first woman on the Oregon Supreme Court. Robert served on the state’s highest court until 1986. Later she served as a visiting professor of political science at Oregon State University and served on the Oregon Commission on Higher Education.

Filed Under: In Memoriam


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