Charles L. McNary - Family and Legacy

Family and Legacy

On December 29, 1923, McNary married for the second time, to Cornelia Woodburn Morton. He met Morton at a dinner party during World War I, in her hometown of Washington, D.C. Before the marriage, she worked as his private secretary. As with his first marriage, his second did not produce children, but Charles and Cornelia adopted a daughter named Charlotte in 1935.

In 1926, McNary built a new $6,000 ranch-style house, which he designed himself, along two creeks on his farm north of Salem. His estate, called "Fir Cone", featured a putting green, rose garden, tennis court, fishpond, and arboretum, and more than 250 acres (1.0 km2) of trees. Fir Cone was described as Oregon's Monticello by later Senator Richard L. Neuberger, as it hosted many meetings with politicians from the national stage. The farm included 110 acres (0.45 km2) of nut and fruit orchards, through which McNary helped establish the filbert industry in Oregon and on which he developed the Imperial prune.

After complaining of headaches and suffering slurred speech beginning in early 1943, McNary went to the Bethesda, Maryland, Naval Hospital on November 8, 1943, where doctors diagnosed a malignant brain tumor. They removed it that week, and McNary was released from the hospital on December 2, but the cancer had already spread to other parts of his body. He and his family departed for Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to spend the winter. He partly recovered from the surgery, but by February 24, 1944, when he was re-elected as Republican senate leader, he was comatose. Charles L. McNary died February 25, 1944, in Fort Lauderdale, and was buried in Belcrest Memorial Cemetery in Salem. He was given a state funeral, during which his body lay in state in the chamber of the Oregon House of Representatives at the Oregon State Capitol in Salem.

McNary's running-mate Willkie died six months later. It was the only time both members of a major party presidential ticket died during the term for which they sought election. At the time of his death, McNary held the record for longest-serving senator from Oregon, a record he kept until 1993 when Mark O. Hatfield surpassed his mark of 9,726 days in office.

McNary Dam on the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington is named after him, as is McNary Field, Salem's airport. McNary High School in Keizer and McNary Residence Hall at Oregon State University are also named in his honor.

Read more about this topic:  Charles L. McNary

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