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Oregon Bids Farewell to a Good Friend

It is with heavy heart that I write this message to you. I just learned a couple of days ago that a true champion of responsible Land Use and Private Property Rights here in Oregon, is no longer in our midst.

Bill Moshofsky, many of you in Oregon have known for a good number of years. For me that time goes back to about 1981, when I was still a single man, living in Washington County (Portland metro area). I was a Realtor back then too, and at that time, trying to hang on for dear life after the decimation of the housing industry under Jimmy Carter. That’s when I first met Bill. In fact it was a little before that, during the Reagan campaign.

Bill was an executive at Georgia-Pacific at the time, serving as vice president of government affairs, a career which spanned over 23 years. So it was almost natural, you might say, that he would transition from government affairs to the affairs of government. That was the spirit which motivated Bill to run for congress in Oregon’s first district, the seat held by democrat Les AuCoin at the time. Bill ran against him in 1982 and again in 1984, but alas we were not able to “Toss AuCoin”.  But Bill fought the good fight, and I still have the campaign tee shirt (okay I’m a little OCD) to show I was a uniformed foot soldier, and Washington County Co-Chair for Bill. 

We had some good times back then, and that campaign was one of the earlier, in a long string of campaigns to come. Prior to Moshofsky I was co-chair of the Washington County Nick Bunick for Congress campaign. And that preceded my working on Big John Connally’s and eventually Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaigns. One quick little side note, then back to Bill; I ended up many, many years later as campaign manager for Charles Starr who was attempting to unseat David Wu in that same district, Oregon 1.  I mention that just to say that in spite of the best efforts by Bill and those before and since, the seat remains a democrat stronghold. Maybe some day?

But let’s look further back, into Bill Moshofsky’s earlier years. From his biography on OIA:

He was born in Beaverton, Oregon to Edward and Sophia Moshofsky, the third of their seven children. According to family, Bill always credited his being raised on a farm during the Great Depression, as preparing him for life. He went to McKinley Grade School, and later graduated from Beaverton High School, University of Oregon, and U of O Law School, all with honors. Serving as an infantry officer in WWII, his heroic efforts under fire in Germany led to his receiving the Bronze Star “for unrelenting vigor and enthusiasm”.  That unrelenting vigor and enthusiasm would become a hallmark throughout Bill’s life. He was called back into service during the Korean Conflict, where he served with distinction as a Judge Advocate General officer.

Following his political campaigns, Bill was a partner in the Portland law firm Moshofsky, DiLorenzo and Dietz. But never a person to slow down or get comfortable , he soon became  engaged with Frank Nims at Oregonians in Action in an effort to bring some equity and fairness back to Oregon’s land use system, which had been decimated by Senate Bill 100 and the spawning of LCDC (Land Conservation and Development Commission).

Moshofsky’s years at OIA were very impactful. Working together with founder Frank Nims (Now 97 years old), and current Executive Director Dave Hunnicutt, he was a driving force as OIA became the premier property rights advocates in Oregon (still to this day). Highlights include the win at the U.S. Supreme Court in the Dolan case, the passage of Ballot Measure 37 restoring property rights lost to Senate Bill 100 and the monstrous LCDC bureaucracy which followed. 

Back in the 90’s I had the privilege of working together as Communications Director of OIA with Bill, Dave, Ross Day, and Rachel Barnes. During that time, I observed Bill’s strength and resolve to keep pressing forward in the fight to regain stolen property rights. One landmark case was the Dorothy English victory, in which the estate of English ultimately received in excess of $2 million dollars from Multnomah County for denying her rights, and recovery of legal fees to restore them.  

One thing I will attest to is Bill Moshofsky’s grace under pressure. He was always known as a true gentleman. Many have referred to him as “the kindest man they’d ever known”. Even back in the days of politics, he was always effective without stooping to the demeaning level of personal attacks on his opponent. Kind of like the current presidential race, only different.

You know, I never liked the phrase; “let’s just agree to disagree”.  I guess it’s always struck me as kinda “new agey” feeling. I mean we don’t really have to agree about disagreeing, we just plain disagree. But as a pen this column, looking back, I wonder if maybe Bill is the man that inspired that phrase. I never saw him in a disagreeable posture. He was always composed, effective, and respectful of his adversaries. Which is not to be confused with weak; Bill was anything but that. His years in corporate law and governmental affairs are a legacy to his effectiveness and prowess in dealing with tough laws and tough opponents.

Bill Moshofsky had a quiet dignity about him, and was a man who always appeared comfortable in his own skin. He had a soft voice that always made you feel as though he was taking you into his confidence, but then would crescendo with exuberance as he became fully engaged in the subject at hand.

Yes it’s true what’s been said that Bill was a “kind man”, but it’s also true that Bill is the kind of man who is in short supply in today’s public arena. I will miss Bill, as will the citizens of Oregon, as we have both lost a good friend.     

David Jaques, Editor

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