Sen. Jane Cease figured out early in life that what governments did mattered. Cease was elected to represent her Northeast Portland district in the Oregon House of Representatives in 1979. Male and female voters in the 1970s were unsure of whether a woman was up to the task of being in politics.

“There was this dis-rest, unease, uncomfortableness with women being more than what our role was.”

Former Oregon State Senator Jane Cease

Walking up the steps to the Capitol Building for her first session Cease knew that this was where she needed to be. Some of her male colleagues were less certain, but Jane’s persistence and work ethic soon won over her skeptics.

Women representatives and senators were small in number during her tenure, but they banded together as a group known as the Queen Bees. The “Bees” shared a house in Salem where they supported one another across party lines.

Cease worked on legislation that some might consider unglamorous but affected all Oregonians: updating the motor vehicle code, revising funding sources to keep roads paved and drivable, and implementing strict environmental codes on stream and water quality. After leaving elective office, Cease continued her work in state government working in transportation, a long-time interest of hers.

“I was delighted when Frankie Bell’s idea for the Capitol Foundation was adopted and also happily served on the 2005-2006 Public Commission on the Legislature making more recommendations. The Capitol is the major symbol of the public’s governing in Oregon and we all need to be stewards for its care.”

Hon. Jane Cease

Watch an OSCF oral history project interview with Sen. Jane Cease.