Former Arizona Governor Rose Mofford Dies

Published: Thursday, September 15, 2016 - 11:37am
Updated: Tuesday, March 9, 2021 - 1:27pm
Audio icon Download mp3 (6.73 MB)
Arizona State Library
Rose Mofford was Arizona's governor from 1988 to 1991.

Arizona’s first female governor, Rose Mofford, has died at the age of 94. A friend of the family said she died Thursday morning at a hospice she entered last month after being injured in a fall.

Mofford was sworn in as governor in 1988 after the previous governor, Evan Mecham, was impeached.

“She was a caretaker and really I don’t think, in her mind, expected to become governor," said Jack August, Arizona’s state historian. “But she rose to the occasion and she helped stabilize a population that was really unsure about what was going on.”

Former Attorney General Terry Goddard described Mofford as a calming force in the midst of turmoil.

"She was the perfect person to pull Arizona back together and get us back on track. She established the confidence locally, but that did a world of good to restore our image across the country," he said. Mofford served only one term, declining to seek re-election for the governor's office.

Mofford was a Democrat in a traditionally Republican state, yet she was revered by members of both parties. Chris Herstam was the Majority Whip in the Arizona House during the time Mofford served as governor.

“She reached across the political aisle. Even though she was a Democrat, she worked very well with Republicans,” he said. “Rose Moffard was one of a kind. And we’ll probably never see another person again like her in our state.”

During her time in office, 1988-1991, Mofford formed the Governor's Alliance Against Drugs, the Governor's Youth Commission Against Drugs, and created Arizona's first Drug Prevention Resource Center.

Mofford was born in Globe, Arizona, in 1922 and started her career in politics at an early age. She was the first female class president of Globe High School and after graduation, worked in the state treasury and Arizona tax omission offices.

Mofford became executive treasurer of the tax commission in 1947 at the age of 25, but was fired in 1960 because the commissioner “felt it was better to have a man in that job.”

Mofford didn’t let this setback stop her, and went on to win the election for Secretary of State three times and even served at the president of the National Association of Secretaries of State in 1983.

Mofford was known for her iconic beehive hairdo and phenomenal softball skills. She was inducted into the Softball Hall of Fame in 1974 and has a scholarship and sports complex in her name.

Her death has prompted an outpouring of condolences. In a statement, current Gov. Doug Ducey said she “shattered a once thought unbreakable glass ceiling and served as a role model to many”… including Goddard.

"She was someone who gave me advice when I needed it. You could always call her. Her number was in the book and she was always available for her friends and that was everybody," Goddard said.

Ducey has ordered flags to be flown at half-mast in her honor.

The Show Obituaries