Representative Udall Kept Life, Politics In Perspective


Another Arizona legend, U.S. Rep. Mo Udall, has fallen.

Morris K. Udall, known as "Mo" to his constituents and colleagues, served with distinction as a U.S. Representative from Arizona from 1961 to 1991. He was first elected to Congress in a special by-election in May 1961 to succeed his brother Stewart who was appointed Secretary of Interior by President Kennedy. It was my privilege to serve with Mo in the U.S. House of Representatives during the last five years of his legislative career. He set an example of outstanding public service that individuals in both political parties could well emulate.

As a legislator he ranked at the very top and the prestigious Almanac of American Politics 1990 described Udall as "one of the leading and most productive politicians of his generation." His legislative achievements were many, but he will be especially remembered for his work on environmental protection and on campaign and governmental reform. He will also be noted for his contributions in making the Arizona delegation one of the most effective in Washington.

As an individual, he will be recalled for his character, courage, integrity, and concern for others. Mo showed courage and character in his personal life as he battled Parkinson's disease from 1980, the affliction that shortened his congressional career. The trait that I will always associate with Mo was his sense of humor.

The novelist Sabatini once wrote of one of his characters a description that well fits Mo. "He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad." Udall used this gift of laughter to defuse tense partisan political situations, to get individuals to laugh at themselves, and to build successful political coalitions.

In his book "Too Funny To Be President," Mo Udall noted that his path or guiding light was a Will Rogers' admonition: "We are here for just a short spell and then pass on. So get a few laughs and do the best you can. Live your life so that whenever you lose, you are ahead."

Mo's legacy is that he followed this admonition. Even when he lost, Mo Udall was always ahead.

--U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Arizona

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