Harris Ellsworth

Harris Ellsworth

Harris Ellsworth once said that he had three separate lives involving jobs for which he had no experience—which means that Ellsworth accomplished three times as much as most people do in a single lifetime.

In 1929, while manager of the Oregon Newspaper Association, Ellsworth purchased a quarter interest in The (Roseburg) News-Review, and in March of 1929 became its editor and publisher. As Roseburg struggled to recover from the loss of Southern Pacific jobs and the onset of the Depression, Ellsworth proved instrumental in bringing the Veteran’s Administration hospital to the area. The government money allotted for labor to build the hospital helped sustain the area until the timber industry took hold.

In 1936, Ellsworth put KRNR radio on the air in Roseburg, one of the first stations outside of the Portland market.

Ellsworth’s next career move took him to Washington, D.C. as the first Congressman for the newly formed 4th District. From 1942 to 1956 he served as a member of the House Appropriations Committee and represented the western states on the Rules committee. Among many efforts during his congressional career, Ellsworth was most proud of his acquisition of more money for counties from the timber harvested on lands that were once railroad right of way properties. He championed smaller local projects supporting the construction of a small port at the mouth of the Rogue River, increasing the depth of the Coos Bay Harbor and extending Bonneville Power lines to the coast.

During the last part of his tenure in office, Ellsworth served as chairman of the U.S. Civil Service Commission and as President Eisenhower’s adviser on personnel management. As an adviser, Ellsworth met with the President’s cabinet, an honor the self-described “country boy from Roseburg” appreciated.

When his Congressional career ended, Ellsworth earned his real estate broker’s license. Ellsworth sold 33 properties with a total value of over $2-million in ten years.

He handled the sales of one third of Oregon’s small papers. After retirement from real estate, Ellsworth resided in Albuquerque, New Mexico until his death in 1986.

Mark O. Hatfield, U.S. Senator-Oregon, retired and former Governor of Oregon remembers, “Harris Ellsworth was a man of highest integrity, both personally and publicly. He was noted as being one of the hardest working members of the Oregon delegation. He maintained excellent relationships with constituents and was held in the highest respect by colleagues.”