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Home arrow Opinion arrow Who accompanied John F. Kennedy on his visit to La Grande?


Who accompanied John F. Kennedy on his visit to La Grande?

We know that John Kennedy’s wife, Jacqueline, was with him and we also believe that his brother, Robert, joined the future president when he appeared in 

La Grande 54 years ago. 

Kennedy, then a U.S. senator from Massachusetts, visited La Grande on Nov. 9, 1959. Kennedy spoke at Eastern Oregon University and at an old restaurant named The Wheel. Kennedy had yet to announce his candidacy for president and would not do so until January 1960.

A story about Kennedy’s visit in the Nov. 10, 1959, edition of the Observer states that his wife was with him but there is no mention of his brother. However, an editorial in the Nov. 25, 1963, edition of The Observer appears to indicate that Robert was with the JFK party.

It states that Kennedy and “ … Mrs. Kennedy and Bobby stopped briefly in La Grande. They were an impressive triumvirate, impressive in their dignified yet modest bearing.”

Robert F. Kennedy, known to many as Bobby, served as U.S. attorney general from 1961 to 1964. He later represented New York in the U.S. Senate and ran for president in 1968. Robert Kennedy visited La Grande a second time on May 22, 1968, during his presidential campaign, two weeks before he was assassinated in Los Angeles.

The Observer’s Nov. 25, 1963, editorial reflected on John Kennedy following his assassination two days earlier in Dallas. The writer of the editorial recalled the personal impression John Kennedy made on people during his La Grande visit.

“An aura of quiet self assurance rested about John Kennedy that few people are possessed with. Almost anyone coming in contact with him was almost immediately put at ease by his superbly gracious manners and impressive intellect,” the editorial said.

Did a La Grande High School graduate once set a field goal record while playing for the University of Oregon football team?


Buck Corey, who graduated from La Grande High School about 1960, set a University of Oregon school record in 1962 when he booted a 38-yard field goal in a 20-17 loss to Oregon State University. The field goal was then the longest in school history, according to a story in the Nov. 22, 1963, edition of The Observer. Corey had the 10th highest scoring total for a college kicker in the nation in 1962.

“He is the most consistent place kicker I’ve ever coached,” said Len Casanova, then the University of Oregon’s football coach, in the 1963 Observer article about Corey.

Contact Dick Mason at 541-786-5386 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Dick on Twitter @lgoMason.


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