PHOENIX — Dozens of mourners on Friday bid farewell to Arizona’s first Hispanic member of Congress, the former U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor, who was remembered as a devoted public servant and doting family man in a ceremony that filled a large Phoenix church with laughter and sometimes tears.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi remembered Pastor on Friday as a lawmaker whose humor united people from both sides of the political aisle.
“Everything he did, he was always making it more wonderful,” said Pelosi, a Democrat from California.
The service at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Phoenix began with a mariachi group singing “De Colores,” a popular Spanish-language folk anthem, and featured a color guard.
Republican Sen. Jon Kyl, who served alongside Pastor as a member of Senate, said the Democrat was humble but enormously effective.
“Let’s face it: It was hard to turn Ed down.” Kyl said. “Ed was always a champion for those who needed the representation the most.”
Pastor was remembered especially for his hard work bringing light rail service to Phoenix, which he believed would help low-income people in the southern part of the city he represented.
“For him, the light rail represented the opening of a new world to those who had no access,” said his daughter Laura Pastor, who followed him into politics to become a member of the Phoenix City Council.
The liberal Democrat known for his bipartisanship died last week after a heart attack. He was 75.
Mourners at the service included Cindy McCain, the widow of Republican Sen. John McCain, who died earlier this year, Arizona’s congressional delegation, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey and retired Sen. Jeff Flake.
Pastor served 23 years in Congress but retired in 2014.
His body lied in state at the Arizona State Capitol Sunday. Another viewing was held Thursday evening at St. Francis Xavier church.
Pastor was born in Claypool, Arizona, a small mining town about 100 miles (160 kilometers) east of Phoenix. His father worked in the copper mines, and Pastor was the first in his family to graduate from college, earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Arizona State University.
Pastor taught high school chemistry in Phoenix and later earned a law degree at ASU.
He joined the staff of former Gov. Raul Castro in the 1970s and made his first foray into elected office when he successfully ran for Maricopa County supervisor in 1976.
Pastor was elected to Congress in 1991.
Pastor was also survived by his wife, Verma, his other daughter Yvonne, four grandchildren and a sister.
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