Political poster for the Willkie-McNary ticket, 1940.  Willamette Heritage Center Collections 2004.026.0030.

Once a month, Willamette Heritage Center curator Kylie Pine shares a historical photo from the center's collections with a brief description of Salem history.

Salem native and U.S. Senator Charles Linza McNary (1874-1944) ran unsuccessfully as a Republican vice presidential candidate with Lewis Wendell Willkie (1892-1944) against an incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940. 

Willkie had won his new found party’s nomination (he had been a Democrat up until a year before), likely because he was the only Republican candidate who supported the U.S. becoming proactively involved in WWII. 

When he was selected as Willkie’s running mate, McNary was a veteran senator with 23 years under his belt. He had also been the Senate Minority Leader for 7 years. As a Republican he supported many Democratic, New Deal programs.  

In an odd twist of fate, both Willkie and McNary died in 1944. Willkie of a heart attack and McNary from an unsuccessful surgery to remove a brain tumor. 

McNary’s legacy is very apparent throughout the state with McNary Dam, McNary dorm at OSU and Salem’s airport and a high school still bearing his name. 

A June 29, 1940 article in the Statesman Journal describes McNary's reaction to his nomination for vice president.

Editor's note: This column is part of an effort from Salem Reporter to highlight local history in collaboration with area historians and historical organizations. If you have any feedback or would like to participate in Salem Reporter's local history series, please contact managing editor Rachel Alexander at [email protected]

JUST THE FACTS, FOR SALEM - We report on your community with care and depth, fairness and accuracy. Get local news that matters to you. Subscribe to Salem Reporter starting at $5 a month. Click I want to subscribe!