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Goldwater, Barry

(Barry Morris Goldwater, 1909.01.01-1998.05.29)  Senator, presidential candidate, photographer.

Born in Phoenix

Lived in Phoenix, Paradise Valley

Died in Paradise Valley

Senator Barry Goldwater. U.S. Senate Historical Office.

At the time of his death at 89, Barry Goldwater was the icon of Arizona politics.  Had he never entered politics, he would still be remembered for his pursuits in business, photography, and the military.

Goldwater's grandfather, "Big Mike" Goldwasser, emigrated from Poland in the mid 19th century to avoid conscription in the Russian army.  Big Mike and his brother tried and failed at several businesses, including a saloon in California, before they found success in Arizona.  Starting with a mule-drawn wagon loaded with goods, they began their mercantile career at a mining camp east of Yuma.  They established permanent stores in La Paz and Ehrenberg, and later in Prescott, Bisbee and Phoenix.  By 1900, Goldwater's had become the territory's leading department store.

Goldwater's father, Baron Goldwater, converted to the Episcopal church and married Hattie Josephine Williams, a nurse who had come to Arizona from Nebraska for her health.  Barry Goldwater, was born in a red brick house at 710 N. Central Avenue in Phoenix.  He was baptized in the church of his parents, learning that he was Episcopalian long before he discovered his father's Jewish heritage.

Portending future success in Arizona politics, Goldwater was elected president of his freshman class.  He paid so much attention to extracurricular activities--like firing a small cannon at the Methodist Church steeple--that he nearly flunked out.  On the diplomatic suggestion of the school's principal that Phoenix Union was not the best place for the young Goldwater's sophomore year, his father transferred him to Staunton Military Academy in Virginia.  There, with the added discipline, he earned academic honors.

At University of Arizona, the handsome, moneyed frat boy drove a 1925 Chrysler roadster and cut a rakish path.  His college career was cut short when his father died suddenly of a heart attack in 1925.  Goldwater dropped out to join the family business.

Like his father before him, the 20-year-old Goldwater started as a clerk. In 1938, the year after he became president of the store and still in his 20's, he created "antsy pants" for men.  The white boxer shorts sporting red ants became a national marketing hit.

In 1934, Goldwater married Margaret Johnson, a store patron from Indiana who wintered in the valley with her family. After two years of dating, he had proposed to her in a phone booth while they were both waiting to make a call.  They had four children were together until her death in 1985.

Fighter pilots were trained on the North American Aviation T6 Harvard at Luke during World War II. It was known as the AT-6 to the US Army, the SNJ to the US Navy and the Harvard to the Royal Air Force.  3-02.

World War II temporarily suspended Goldwater's marketing career. Months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps.  He was immediately assigned to organizing the supply depot at a new field being constructed in the desert west of Phoenix to train fighter pilots.  Sixty years later, pilots were still being trained on that desert field which became Luke Air Force Base.  In 1942, he became director of ground training at the base and a 2.7 million-acre gunnery range near Gila Bend which now bears his name.

When Goldwater turned his attention back to civilian duties at the close of the war, a new interest soon captured his time.  In 1950 Phoenix was wild and woolly western city of 100,000 people.  Prostitution and gambling flourished amid perpetual political upheavals in the municipal government.  Over the preceding 35 years, the city counsel had fired 30 city managers.  Allegations surfaced that bribes had been used to secure favors, and the city was being overcharged.

Goldwater formed a coalition of wealthy but diverse citizens on a non-partisan slate.  This Charter Government ticket succeeded in ousting every incumbent counsel member except the one who was on their ticket.  When the new government took office, Goldwater became its de facto head. 

Harry Rosenzweig, a close friend of Goldwater and a prominent jeweler--when Rosenzweig's Jewelers was sold to Zales in 1973, it commanded an estimated 90% of the Phoenix market--was also on the ticket.  Later he said that Goldwater's concern was to create a stable government, not to deal with gambling and prostitution.

Goldwater's Charter ticket was so successful in reforming city government that it was named an ''All America City'' 1951.  During his stint on the council from 1949 to 1952, Goldwater was also credited with ending segregation in Phoenix public schools.

In His Own Words

"I have little interest in streamlining government or making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them." [From his first book, Conscience of a Conservative,  published in 1960.]

"...extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice...moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!" [Acceptance speech to 1964 Republican Convention]

"When I'm not a politician, I'll be dead."  [To a reporter in 1964]

"As far as I'm concerned, Nixon can go to China and stay there."
"Nixon was the most dishonest individual I have ever met in my life. He lied to his wife, his family, his friends, his colleagues in the Congress, lifetime members of his own political party, the American people and the world."  [After Nixon's resignation, c. 1976]

"Every good Christian ought to kick Falwell right in the ass." [Response to an inaccurate quote of Moral Majority head Jerry Falwell, that every good Christian should be concerned about the Supreme Court nominee Sandra Day O'Connor's stand on abortion, 1981]

"You don't need to be 'straight' to fight and die for your country. You just need to shoot straight."  [Letter to The Washington Post supporting Democrat President Carter's proposal to allow gays in the military, 1993]

"I don't think we should ever tamper with abortion. You'll never stamp it out. It's been in existence since the world began, and it's going to be here when the world ends."

From municipal politics, Goldwater moved on to become the campaign manager of underdog Howard Pyle in the governor's race.  Pyle won a surprise victory, becoming Governor in 1952.

Goldwater then turned his growing political acumen taking the senatorial seat of Ernest W. McFarland.  In 1952 Goldwater was elected to the United States Senate.  He stayed in the senate for most of the next 30 years.

Although he was an opponent of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, his first Senate assistant over 10 years earlier was an African-American woman--an uncommon choice for that era.  The FBI opened a file on the newly elected senator because of what was perceived as his leftward leanings and support by "by a large percentage of Negroes in the Phoenix area."

Political activities having supplanted business interests, Goldwater gave up the presidency of the family business to become chairman of the board in 1953.  He remained on the board through the sale of the stores to Associated Dry Goods Corporation of New York in 1962.  The stores continued to carry the Goldwater name for decades until they were renamed to become part of the Robinson's chain by their new owner, the May Company.

Au H20 -> 64
Text of 1964 Campaign Bumper Sticker

In your heart, you know he's right.
1964 Campaign Slogan

In your guts, you know he's nuts.
Democrat retort

In 1964, Goldwater took time out from the Senate for a stunningly unsuccessful run for the Presidency--he carried only 6 states with Lyndon B. Johnson taking 44.  Only Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and barely Arizona (50.4% to 49.5%) were in the Goldwater column.

In 1992, six years after the death of his wife, at the age of 82, he married Susan Shaffer Wechsler, 51.  His lifelong friend Harry Rozenzweig rmarked with a smile, "Susan Wechsler is a very nice Jewish woman."

A panel of six academic and popular historians assembled by The Arizona Republic to mark Arizona's 90th year of statehood named Barry Goldwater as the second most important person in Arizona's history.

Books about Arizona from amazon.com
Arizona For Dummies(r), 2nd Edition by Edie Jarolim
Arizona Goes to War: The Home Front and the Front Lines During World War II by Brad Melton (Editor), Dean Smith (Editor), Marshall Trimble (Introduction), John S. McCain
Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon by Michael P. Ghiglieri, Thomas M. Myers
Roadside History of Arizona (Roadside History Series) by Marshall Trimble, Joe Beeler
Arizona: A Cavalcade of History by Marshall Trimble
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