Class of 1901
George A. Dondero
First Mayor of Royal Oak
President of the Royal Oak School Board
Member of U. S. Congress for 24 years
Co-sponsor of St. Lawrence Seaway
George Anthony Dondero graduated from Union school in Royal Oak in 1903. He was the only boy in a graduating class of four. By 1910 he had a law degree from the Detroit College of Law and had experience as township treasurer and village assessor. He served as president of the Royal Oak school board for 13 years beginning in 1915. In February, 1927, he laid the cornerstone for a new high school built on the corner of Willis and North Washington. The building would later be named in his honor.
In 1921 George Dondero led in the drafting of a charter to create the city of Royal Oak after which he was elected to be the city's first mayor.
In 1932, George Dondero was nominated by the Republican Party to run for Congress in the new district that included all of Oakland County and the 22nd ward of Wayne County. He was elected to the first of his twelve terms. During his 24 year tenure he frequently disagreed with policies advocated by Presidents Roosevelt and Truman. His convictions lead him to oppose admitting Hawaii and Alaska, increasing the minimum wage and the creation of the Voice of America by the State Department.
While in Congress, Mr. Dondero chaired the House Committee on Public Works. In 1947, the committee honored his service by hanging his portrait in its hearing room. A second portrait hangs in the Royal Oak City Commission Chamber. Mr. Dondero co-sponsored the bill that established the St. Lawrence Seaway. To honor their efforts, a portion of the waterway is named the Wiley-Dondero Ship Canal. When he ended his 24 year career in the House, Mr. Dondero had participated in policies affecting the Great Depression, the New Deal, World War II, the Korean War and the Cold War. George A. Dondero was inducted into the Royal Oak High School Hall of Fame in 1996.