A Tribute to Hector Macpherson Jr., a Land Use Hero

Jason Miner

I didn't know Hector Macpherson Jr., so some might say I'm an odd choice to write a tribute to him.

Everyone who loves Oregon, however, owes tribute to Hector Macpherson Jr., who, as noted in obituaries and honors across the state, passed away on March 21, 2015. In fact, many farmers wrote to us to share what Hector meant to them (and we share one of those memories in the images below). This is especially pointed considering what our co-founder Henry Richmond said of the farming community:

“A ruling won in court can always be changed by the legislature or a vote of the people. Only farmers who owned and worked the land had the credibility to argue effectively for conservation. More important, only the farmers of obvious personal integrity, who quietly spoke up for conservation from a position of principle and conviction, could provide the strength of leadership to turn things the right way in a legislative hearing or LCDC meeting.”

So often guests who visit Oregon remark on the farmland that dominates the Willamette Valley landscape—praising both its personality and its economy. As a pioneer legislators who helped lead the movement for rational land use policy in Oregon, and as the person most closely associated with defending world-class farmland, Hector changed the path of development by reminding us what should not be lost to subdivision. At 1000 Friends of Oregon, we honor and remember the legacy he leaves us.

Like me, many in my generation of land use leaders didn't know Hector. And those to come won't. But in reading of the heroes that walked with Governor Tom McCall in the long list of books—Fire at Eden’s Gate, The Unquiet Revolution, Planning Paradise—that describe that era, one insight rings true. As often as we quote McCall about heroes, the character, principle, and passion of the women and men who led this movement stands out. Ultimately, they were people no different than you and me, no different than the rising generation of leaders who must see how closely issues of not just farming, but housing, transportation, equity, and climate are tied to the ways we value land. These leaders were fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, brothers, and sisters who led their fellows to a better future.