Mary Oberst

Mary Oberst currently serves on the Oregon Geographic Names Board. As Oregon’s First Lady (2003-2011), she led the capital campaign to restore the Kam Wah Chung & Co. Museum in John Day, Oregon’s Sesquicentennial Celebration, and the effort to create Oregon’s Main Street program. She is an emeritus board member of Oregon Black Pioneers and served two terms on the Oregon State Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation.

Author's Entries

  • Charles Ray Jordan (1937–2014)

    Charles Ray Jordan was a towering figure in Portland history. The first African American to serve on the Portland City Council, he was the director of Portland Parks and Recreation for fourteen years. “He was just a giant in this city,” former City Commissioner Mike Lindberg told the Oregonian when …

    Oregon Encyclopedia

  • Gertrude Lamfrom Boyle (1924–2019)

    In her autobiography, Gert Boyle proffers “Ma Boyle’s Recipe for Success in Business.” The first ingredient is “Don’t give up.” That advice also tops the list in her “Recipe for Success in Life.” She should know. By not giving up, Boyle led Columbia Sportswear to international success and made significant …

    Oregon Encyclopedia

  • Margaret Louise Carter (1935–)

    Margaret Carter was the first Black woman to be elected to the Oregon State Legislature, in 1984. She served as the chair of the Democratic Party of Oregon (1996) and was the first African American woman to hold such an office west of the Mississippi. In 2005, Carter became the …

    Oregon Encyclopedia

  • Matthew Prophet (1930-2022)

    On March 19, 1982, the Portland Public School Board met in a regularly scheduled meeting. In attendance was Matthew W. Prophet Jr., who was to begin his tenure as the first Black PPS superintendent three days later. Also in attendance were more than ninety chanting demonstrators, brought together by the …

    Oregon Encyclopedia

  • Oregon Black Pioneers (organization)

    Oregon Black Pioneers, an all-volunteer group founded in Salem in 1993, aims to preserve the rich heritage and culture of Oregon’s African Americans through collections and programs that promote scholarly research and public use. Oregon Black Pioneers partners with academic consultants and history organizations throughout Oregon to conduct research, compile …

    Oregon Encyclopedia

  • Ranald MacDonald (1824-1894)

    Ranald MacDonald (Clatsop Chinook) was a navigator, whaler, tutor, interpreter, and writer. In 1848-1849, he was the first native speaker of English to teach that language in Japan, which had been closed to foreigners for two centuries before he arrived. He also reportedly wrote the first report to Congress by …

    Oregon Encyclopedia

  • Ronald D. Herndon (1945–)

    Firebrand. Activist. A modest man. Ron Herndon has been described as all three. A long-time activist for minority rights and educational opportunities, especially in Portland, he was a founder of the Portland chapter of the Black United Front, the director of Albina Head Start, and the president of the …

    Oregon Encyclopedia

  • Sarah Winnemucca (1844?-1891)

    Sarah Winnemucca, a Paiute, had a clear purpose in life: “I mean to fight for my down-trodden race while life lasts.” Winnemucca lived part of her adult life on reservations in Oregon and was an important figure in the Bannock Indian War of 1878 before becoming a nationally prominent spokesperson …

    Oregon Encyclopedia

  • William “Bill” Lipscomb McCoy (1921–1996)

    Bill McCoy took his seat in the Oregon House of Representatives in 1972 as the first African American elected to the Oregon legislature. In 1974, after serving one term, he was appointed to fill a vacancy in the Oregon Senate, a seat he held until his death in 1996. …

    Oregon Encyclopedia