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  • Goldwater Remembered

  •   Fond Memories of a Patriarch, Politics Aside

    By David S. Broder
    Monday, June 1, 1998; Page A02

    PHOENIX, May 31—For many in this sunny valley, especially those who grew up here, the passing of Barry M. Goldwater is like a death in the family. They have spent hours since the news came Friday recalling the man who is known nationally as the father of modern-day conservatism but is cherished here as a patriarch who linked Arizona's frontier past with its booming present.

    Patrice Caldwell, director of development at the Arizona Science Center and an ardent Democrat, recalled how her father, like many other African Americans, "worked and voted for him in every campaign. My dad was born in 1899. What mattered to him was that Lincoln had freed the slaves and that Barry Goldwater was an honest man. It didn't bother him that the senator opposed the civil rights bill in 1964. He said it must have been a flawed bill or his senator would have voted for it.

    "As a child," she continued, "I remember the first credit card we ever had was for Goldwater's Department Store. I remember riding up the escalator and seeing that handsome picture of Barry at the top. I am very personally sad he is gone."

    Caldwell, like many longtime community leaders, spent much of Saturday at a forum discussing the pros and cons of privatizing the Social Security system -- one of many ideas that got Goldwater into hot water in his 1964 presidential campaign.

    Betsey Bayless, the Republican secretary of state and a third-generation Arizonan, said what was striking to her was that "he was always the same. Whether he was talking in the kitchen of our house or on national TV, you heard the same thoughts, the same language. Often that got him in trouble."

    Along with his friends John J. Rhodes, who later became House minority leader, and Steve Shadegg, whose son now serves in the House, Goldwater led the conversion of Arizona from a Democratic bastion into a predominantly Republican state. He became an icon for two generations of fellow partisans.

    One of them, Rep. J.D. Hayworth, said, "I still remember what a thrill it was to get a campaign contribution, a check signed Barry Goldwater." Hayworth has kept a photocopy of the check, and a place card with Goldwater's name on it from a Rotary luncheon where they both appeared in 1994. "On the back of his card, he wrote three words -- Russia, China and freedom. That was all he needed for a wonderful 30-minute speech."

    But Goldwater's appeal reached across party lines. Lorraine Frank, who has represented Arizona on the Democratic National Committee since 1980, said, "He knew, of course, I disagreed with him. But when I needed him on a civic project here, he came off the Senate floor to return my call."

    For many, it was Goldwater's personality -- not his politics -- that was captivating. Monsignor Edward Ryle recalled co-chairing a charity dinner with Goldwater's second wife, Susan. "He joined us late and said three words: I'm the spouse."

    There are lakes, parks, roads, rivers and public buildings all over the state bearing the Goldwater name. But perhaps the real shrine to his memory can be found in the Heard Museum here, a repository of Native American art and handcrafts. Goldwater was a life trustee of the museum, which displays several of the stunning photographs he took of Arizona landscapes and people, as well as all 437 of the Hopi kachina dolls he started collecting on his jaunts through rural areas in the 1940s and donated to the museum in 1964.

    In the kachina room where the dolls, carved from cottonwood roots as ceremonial gifts to young women, are displayed, visitors Saturday spoke of Goldwater.

    Greta Schierer of Scottsdale said, "The pictures are so sensitive I can't believe they were taken by the Barry Goldwater whose politics I hated growing up. He said some awful things, but the photos show another side entirely."

    Goldwater was an extremely combative politician, as befit a senator born three years before Arizona became a state in 1912, the son of an immigrant trading post operator on the raw frontier. But he is cherished by friend and foe alike.

    "He was always in touch with the Indians and the poor people," said Sandy Enfield, another museum visitor who grew up here and lives in Los Angeles. "I remember when I was in high school, he was on the city council, and he led the movement that disbanded what had been the all-black high school. Later, we worked in his presidential campaign headquarters in Tucson, and every day, black people and poor people who knew what he had done came in with their few dollars or coins to contribute."

    On an adobe wall outside the kachina room are inscribed words from an unknown Pueblo man that had special meaning for those reading them this weekend: "We have lived upon this land from days beyond history's record, far past any living memory. The story of my people and the story of this place are one single story. No man can think of us without thinking of this place."

    In future generations, it is unlikely anyone will think of Arizona without thinking of Barry Goldwater.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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