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Bill Bradbury, former Oregon secretary of state, has died

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Oregon Capital Bureau

Bill Bradbury, former Oregon secretary of state and a lion of state government, died Friday, April 14, according to U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley.

He died while on a cruise with his wife. The cause of death has not yet been released.

Bradbury, 73, served as Oregon’s 23rd secretary of state from 1999 to 2009. He formerly served in the Legislature and ran for governor in 2010.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski appointed him to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council in 2010.

“The passing of Bill Bradbury is a devastating loss for his family and loved ones, and for the entire State of Oregon, which he served in many capacities over a lifetime devoted to building a better Oregon,” Merkley wrote Friday, April 14. “Bill was a close friend who served in the Oregon State Legislature for many years. As Oregon State Senate President he showed excellent leadership skills, was an unwavering champion on environmental issues — especially surrounding salmon and watershed restoration — and fought every day for small businesses and rural and coastal Oregonians.

Willie Smith, who serves as chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, posted a remembrance of Bradbury on Instagram early Saturday. “Bill Bradbury was an Oregon treasure! He had a spirit and an energy that was infectious and so much fun to be around. Learning of his passing is incredibly sad, but he lived an incredible, purposeful and fulfilling life. My time managing his re-election campaign as secretary of state was so educational and meaningful for me, and the team he assembled. Thanks for all you did for me and our state, Bill Bradbury! You will be missed.”

State Sen. Rob Wagner, D-Lake Oswego and Senate president, released a statement early Saturday. “Bill Bradbury was a legend of Oregon politics — a consummate public servant and a bright light that exuded positive energy and focused on issues Oregonians cared about,” Wagner wrote. “He would always take the time to meet with young people working in politics, which is how I got to know him. He leaves a legacy of strengthening Oregon’s democracy and protecting our environment. My thoughts are with his family during this difficult time.”

Bradbury was born in Chicago. His parents were killed in a car accident in 1958, according to his Wikipedia page. Both Bradbury and his sister were injured and moved to Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, to be raised by an aunt and uncle.

He moved to Oregon in 1969 where he worked as a news reporter, director and producer in Bandon, Eugene, and Portland.

He served in the Legislature from 1981 to 1995, and then served as secretary of state.

He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1981.

Bradbury lived in Salem and Bandon with his wife Katy Ehmann, whom he married in 1986. She serves as president of Climate Clean Inc. Bradbury had two daughters, Abby and Zoë, from a previous marriage.

“After he left public office, he continued to use his voice to advocate for a healthy climate, restoration of salmon runs, and a strong democracy,” Sen. Merkley wrote. “Bill may be gone, but he leaves behind a legacy in Oregon that will endure for generations to come. My heart is with all his loved ones during this difficult time.”

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