Gretchen Miller Kafoury was born in Walla Walla, Wash. She earned a degree in music from Whitman College in 1963.
After college, according to her biography in the Portland State University archives, she joined the Peace Corps and spent two years in Iran. After coming back to the U.S., she taught first at Grant High School and then at Portland State University.
Kafoury co-founded the National Organization for Women's Oregon chapter in 1970, and the Oregon Women's Political Caucus in 1971.
She won election to the Oregon State House of Representatives in 1976 and served there until 1982. From 1985 to 1990 was a member of the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners, and was then elected City Commissioner for Portland in 1991 and served there until 1998.
As a city commissioner, Kafoury built a strong reputation as an advocate for affordable housing. Gretchen Kafoury Commons, a nine-story apartment building at Southwest 12th and Columbia Streets built in 2000, was named in her honor.
After leaving politics, Kafoury taught at Portland State University's Hatfield School of Government from 1999 until her retirement in 2008.
In 2011, the Portland State University Center for Politics, Women and Policy gave Gretchen Kafoury a lifetime achievement award.
Kafoury died today of natural causes at her downtown Portland home. She is survived by Deborah and a younger daughter, Katharine Kafoury.