Former Oregon Gov. Tom McCall, 69, a Republican who held office from 1967 through 1974, gaining a reputation as a staunch environmentalist who fought to protect the state's land-use program, died of cancer Jan. 8 at Good Samaritan Hospital here.
During his term as governor, he pushed Oregon to the forefront of the nation's environmental awakening in the 1960s. After serving his constitutional limit of two terms, Gov. McCall returned to his job as political commentator. As governor, he once said on national television, "Come visit but for God's sake don't stay," a remark that some people said helped give Oregon an elitist, anti-business image.
During the 1973 energy crisis, Gov. McCall ordered outdoor advertising lights off and pushed for the odd-even license plate system, which was later picked up nationally to help alleviate long gasoline station lines.
He was hawkish on the Vietnam War and sponsored a rock festival at a state park to diffuse a possible confrontation between anti-war factions and veterans who were gathered in Portland for a convention.
At the Oregon Republicans' annual conference in 1974, he became the first GOP governor to call for President Nixon's resignation.
Oregon's Bottle Bill, providing for a refundable deposit on beer and soft drink cans and bottles, got nowhere in the legislature until Gov. McCall pushed the legislators to pass the nation's first mandatory beverage container refund law.
He made a comeback try for governor in 1978, but lost the Republican primary to the state's current governor, Vic Atiyeh.
Gov. McCall was born in Egypt, Mass., at the estate of his maternal grandfather, financier Thomas Lawson. His paternal grandfather, Samuel W. McCall, served in Congress for 20 years and was Massachusetts governor for three terms.
He was a 1936 graduate of the University of Oregon, and worked for newspapers in Oregon and Idaho. He was Gov. Douglas McKay's administrative assistant from 1949-52, then became a radio broadcaster and went on to become a political commentator for a Portland television station.
The exposure promoted his first try for office, a losing bid as a Republican for the 3rd Congressional District seat. He was elected Oregon secretary of state in 1964, and two years later won his first of two terms as governor.
He was stricken with prostate cancer in 1973. It reappeared in 1981, and last year it was found to have spread to his spine and skull.
Last October, fighting a statewide ballot initiative to abolish the state's strict land-use planning system, McCall acknowledged it would be his last battle.
"You all know that I have terminal cancer, and I have a lot of it," the the former governor said. "But what many of you might not know is that stress induces its spread and induces its activity. Stress may even bring it on. Yet stress is the fuel of the activist. This activist loves Oregon more than he loves life. I know I can't have both very long, but the trade-off is all right with me."
Upon learning of his death, President Reagan said Gov. McCall was "an effective, dynamic and constructive force for Oregon and the nation. He faced death candidly and openly the same way he faced all his political and personal challenges."
Gov. Vic Atiyeh ordered all state flags to fly at half staff.
"A great Oregon spirit today lies still," Atiyeh said in a statement. "Few human beings in the history of our state more nobly embodied the values and the vision that built Oregon than Tom McCall. And few better served the state they loved."
Survivors include his wife, Audrey, and two sons.