William Stafford, Educator And Oregon Poet Laureate

LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. - William Edgar Stafford, Oregon poet laureate emeritus and longtime educator, has died. He was 79.

Mr. Stafford died Saturday afternoon of heart failure at his home, Deputy Jeff McClennan of the Clackamas County Medical Examiner's office said yesterday.

Mr. Stafford, a professor emeritus of English at Lewis & Clark College, served as a poetry consultant to the Library of Congress in 1970. He was named Oregon poet laureate in 1975.

"William Stafford was an Oregon treasure," Gov. Barbara Roberts said. "His talent, his ability to express so well what many of us felt and his keen understanding of the nature that surrounds us made him a remarkable Oregonian."

Former Gov. Bob Straub, who appointed Mr. Stafford poet laureate, said every Oregonian who "cares about poetry and about the cultural achievements that he had so richly acquired" will be saddened by the news of his death.

"He was a great person," Straub said.

Mr. Stafford wrote 35 books, including "Traveling Through the Dark," for which he won the National Book Award in 1963.

He was a Guggenheim Fellow for creative writing, received an award for Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and letters and received an Endowment for the Arts Senior Fellowship in Literature in 1991.

Mr. Stafford also received a 1992 Western States Book Award for Lifetime Achievement in Poetry.

He was born Jan. 17, 1914, in Hutchinson, Kan. He earned a

bachelor's degree from the University of Kansas in 1937 and a master's degree in 1946. He received a doctorate from the University of Iowa in 1954.

Mr. Stafford is survived by his wife, Dorothy; a son, Kim, also a writer; and two daughters.

Funeral arrangements had not been completed.