The Honorable Dennis DeConcini, United States Senator (Ret.)
My service of 18 years in the United States Senate was a great experience. Serving with such icons as Morris “Mo” Udall and Barry Goldwater were part of that great experience: two pioneer families, with very different political beliefs, both dedicated to their state of Arizona and to the Nation.
Morris Udall and his older brother, Stewart, were both outstanding lawyers who believed strongly in the Rule of Law. They practiced together and with different law firms, such as my father's law and business office in the Valley National Bank building at Stone and Congress in Tucson. As a high schooler, and while attending the University of Arizona, I worked in the summertimes at my father's office, and I witnessed these two brothers practice law and become involved in politics—running for Congress, County Attorney, and Superior Court.
When Mo took his brother Stewart's seat in Congress, after Stewart became Secretary of the Interior under President John F. Kennedy, I worked as a volunteer in his campaign. I witnessed firsthand Mo's concern for Arizona: its need to have economic growth and preservation of the environment.
After Mo became a Congressman, he was one of the first members to put out a regular newsletter to his constituents. I believe it was monthly at first, and then weekly. Long before the Internet, one could call in questions or comments.
When I took office in 1987, I adopted many of Mo's services for the folks back home.
I worked with Mo on the Central Arizona Project, Indian Health Services, Native American needs, Veterans issues, and local communities' needs. Anything that concerned Arizona, Mo Udall was on the case.
We met monthly with the Arizona delegation. Mo always attended, as did I. Not all members did. Instead, they would send a representative from their office. Though I usually was the only Senator present, Mo ran the meeting from the Senate or House dining room. We discussed Arizona's problems. Democrats and Republicans. We would agree on items that benefitted Arizona that we all felt we could support.
Mo, as Chair of the House Interior and Insular Affairs Committee most of the time I served with him, was the person you wanted to have on your side if it affected Arizona and especially the environment.
Mo and I worked, along with other members of the delegation, to enact numerous wilderness bills for Arizona. Sometimes I would attach them to an appropriations bill when they got stalled in the Senate. Mo would get them on the House floor for a vote. Mo knew how to work the floor and “cloak room,” as we used to say, and he would get them passed.
After Mo retired, I introduced legislation with Senator McCain, who had taken Goldwater's Senate seat, creating the Udall Foundation. We did not get the full appropriation the first year, but did establish the Foundation and appropriated sufficient funds to commence its mission. Later, appropriations authorization expanded the scope and mission of the Udall Foundation.
I could go on for some time extolling the virtues of the Udall Foundation and the Udall brothers. However, suffice it to say the Udall Foundation has continued the legacy of Mo and Stewart and their work on the environment, public lands, natural resources, and with Native Americans.
Thank you, Morris and Stewart Udall, and the Udall family, for your dedication to Arizona.