Norma Paulus Dedication
The 2015–2016 Oregon Blue Book is dedicated to Norma Paulus, Oregon Secretary of State from 1977 to 1985, and the first woman to hold statewide elected office in Oregon.
Norma is a pioneer in the truest sense of the word. She grew up in Eastern Oregon during the Great Depression. This self-described “dirt-poor girl from Burns” pulled herself up by grit and determination, blazing a pathway for women to take their rightful place among Oregon’s political leaders. Her courageous example inspired a generation of women, some of whom would go on to serve in the Oregon Legislature, the governor’s office, the U.S. Congress — and, of course, in the secretary of state’s chair.
Norma entered Willamette University Law School in 1957 on the strength of a high school diploma and a bold dream. As a young, politically active housewife with two small children, she helped a Republican colleague run for the Legislature. In the process, she realized that “I can do this.” In 1970, she won her own seat in the Oregon House of Representatives. During her three terms, she was instrumental in passing important environmental, land use, women’s rights and open government laws.
As secretary of state, she shepherded Oregon’s beloved vote by mail system through the Legislature and defended the integrity of the vote against a wholesale attempt to sabotage a county election. As superintendent of public instruction, she championed reforms in public education. In her service on the Northwest Power Planning Council and as director of the Oregon Historical Society, she was a tireless advocate for Oregon’s rich environmental and historical legacy.
For her lifelong leadership and for her fierce commitment to making Oregon a cleaner, greener, fairer, and more prosperous place, we salute Norma Paulus, and we dedicate this book — this celebration of our state — to her.