Official and Personal Tributes to Hon. Morris
K. Udall

Morris K. Udall Day

Office of the Governor of Arizona

    Whereas, on May 2, 1961, Morris K. Udall was elected to the first of his 16 terms representing Arizona's 2d Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives; and
    Whereas, his distinguished example in gentle word and historic deed set a standard for public service, and his unsurpassed integrity, decency, love of the land, warm wit and humor have been an inspiration for many generations; and
    Whereas, the retirement of Congressman Udall on May 4, 1991, will end a dynamic, 30-year political career of towering legislative achievements; and
    Whereas, Mo Udall's accomplishments in protecting our environment are unequaled, as he championed such causes as the Alaska Lands Act, which doubled the size of the national park system and tripled the amount of wilderness area; the massive Central Arizona Project that brought Colorado River water to much of our state; and the regulation of strip-mined land reclamation; and
    Whereas, Mo Udall truly is an Arizona legend and has been a crucial part of the political fabric of our state, and his superb leadership and effectiveness in Congress will be deeply missed; and
    Whereas, as he retires, Mo Udall carries with him the heartfelt thanks, love and admiration of all Arizonans;
    Now, Therefore, I, Fife Symington, Governor of the State of Arizona, do hereby proclaim the 30th Anniversary of Mo Udall's first election to Congress, May 2, 1991, as Morris K. Udall Day in Arizona and extend my deepest gratitude, prayers and best wishes to Mo and his family.
    page 165

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused to be affixed the Great Seal of the State of Arizona

Done at the Capital in Phoenix on this the twenty-ninth day of April in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Nine Hundred and Ninety-One and of the Independence of the United States of America the Two Hundred and Fifteenth. Attest: Richard Mahoney, Secretary of State.

page 166

[From the Arizona Law Record]


(By Anne Udall)

Since Dad's resignation from Congress in early May, I have been asked to share my recollections of him many times. Most requests have been short on-the-spot interviews, requiring quickly crafted answers. I am grateful for this opportunity to write my memories; to have the time to think and compose and refine. Others can write of Dad's numerous and remarkable achievements in law and politics. The story I tell goes beyond the history books, for my view has been the personal one that only a daughter can have. So, if you are a lawyer-type that hates any touchy-feely stuff, you are best to find another column in this magazine to read. This one is full of a daughter's unabashed love (my dad would probably be embarrassed by it).

I knew my dad was special long before the rest of the world found out. He called me Bams. He taught me to ride a bike on Calle la Vela, still a dirt road off of Campbell. He played with me in the park and took all of us to the public library, having to explain why the numerous overdue books were not being returned once again this week. I would go with him to his law office downtown on Court Street and play peek-a-boo with the terra cotta pipes that still adorn the front porch of the building. On weekends, he carried me on his shoulders into the deep end of our swimming pool, until he was totally submerged and I was squealing with delight above the water.

He was elected to Congress when I was six years old. I do not remember the campaign -- I do however remember being awakened at some god-awful hour in the middle of the night to have our picture taken for the Tucson Citizen. After his election, we moved East for a number of years. He loved his job; he worked long and hard and I saw him less. Yet, I have fond memories of spending Saturdays in his office, with him working while we played with the rather impressive electric typewriters. I particularly remember his gentle irritation the time he discovered the typewriter I had left on during the weekend. That memory is matched only by the one of the evening Dad took us to the Capitol to see Kennedy's coffin lying in the rotunda.

It was during this same time that I went to the White House with my dad to witness the signing of the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964. The rest of the family was out of Washington; we were at Dad's office (yes, he still let me play on the typewriters). The White House called to invite him to the signing and we made a mad dash

 page 167

home to procure some suitable attire. We then proceeded at a rapid pace to the White House, arriving with a number of other guests. Dad held my hand, while I gazed up at a number of people he introduced to me: J. Edgar Hoover, Robert Kennedy, Lady Bird Johnson and a number of other rather tall-looking notables. We stood in the very back of the room and Dad held me up so I could see, until finally a man found a chair for me to stand on.

After my parents' divorce we visited Dad regularly during the summers, indulging in the time-honored East Coast tradition of "going to the beach." The July days were full of playing in the sand and learning to body surf. When Dad came to Tucson, there was the inevitable meal at El Minuto, followed most often by one of two activities: bowling or Scrabble. I never beat him until one day I cheated by heisting a blank out of the tile bag in order to have the letters for the word "quizzes" (you Scrabble fans will appreciate the coup--only overshadowed by the cheating necessary to do such a feat). To this day, I can bowl a respectable 145 and score double that on a good Scrabble night, without having to cheat to do so. After he married Tiger, we added a third activity to our times together: jigsaw puzzles. We would sit for hours in their downstairs living room working on some impossibly difficult picture. Over time, we developed our own special vocabulary and I pitied the uninitiated who did not understand what the sub-assemblies, breakthroughs, and "three-legs" were.

People have always admired Dad for his intelligence; as a child, his brilliance was obvious to me as well. Frequently, I would ask him to define a word from my current reading and he would oblige. It became a challenge to find a word he didn't know -- I never did succeed. His keen mind was most apparent when we would talk (actually I asked questions and he answered them). I loved to listen to him. He had a gift that only the truly intelligent have: to take the most complex subject imaginable and make it understandable even to a 13-year-old (perhaps he had plenty of practice with his Congressional colleagues). My love of intelligent conversation was born during those years.

In my early adolescence, I began to hear from people around me how special my dad was. I can remember the admiration and respect he garnered when we would go places. I was proud of him. He did a number of gutsy things, like opposing the Vietnam War and running for the Speaker of the House and the Majority Whip positions. He got busier and I got older. Times together seemed fewer, but there were still hikes, and Mexican meals together, and the always enjoyable trips to visit with him and Tiger.

I went East for my first two years of college, and then my visits to Washington were more frequent. Their house was always open

page 168

to my friends and me, even if I took some good-natured ribbing from Dad about being a "slob" (a term of endearment I still reserve for my closest friends). Sometimes, at night, we would sit and talk while Dad had his evening treat of vanilla ice cream covered with Welch's grape juice (no, I did not make that up).

With some astonishment, I watched as Dad toyed with his presidential aspirations, and eventually announced his candidacy. I watched in even more amazement as I volunteered to work for him. That time with Dad was very special to me. For the next nine months I had the opportunity to see him at his very best. The same brilliance, the same ability to talk to people, the same common sense I had come to know over the years were fully apparent during the months of 1976. Over that year, I shared Dad's excitement, sadness, and eventual acceptance as he came close, and eventually lost, in numerous primary races. I witnessed, first-hand, the bitter disappointment in Wisconsin when he found out that he had lost that crucial race he went to bed believing he had won. I saw his pride in me as I developed the skills to speak to people about his candidacy. And I sat in a hotel room in New York City, chatting with Rosalynn Carter while Dad and Jimmy Carter went into another room to finalize the words Dad would say to release his delegates so that the Democratic party would be unified.

Someone asked me recently if Dad was funny to be around when I was growing up. Those of you who know Mo know his humor is not full of "throwaway" jokes, told only as an adjunct to the real conversation. No, to Dad, jokes and humor were life. I often think that his philosophy, if summed up, might read: Life is too important to be taken seriously.

The diagnosis of Parkinson's disease marked a major time in Dad's life and in the lives of those of us closest to him. I believed him to be invincible, unmarked by scandal as much as by time. I watched, at first with shock and dismay, as the daily routines of life became more difficult for him. And I wondered if he would give up. He didn't. Admiration replaced my earlier emotions. I never heard him complain; yet, I do remember a story he told once that said more than any of his own words. As always, humor was the medium, but the message was nevertheless bittersweet. The tale goes like this:

"This is a story of a hard-working, God-fearing man. The man was blessed with a lovely wife and several children. But one day things began to go wrong. First, his wife ran off with his best friend. In his humility, he said to God, 'Thy will be done.' Then his daughter took a shiftless husband who ran the family business into the ground. 'Thy will be done,' he repeated. By this time, he was reduced to working with a small plot of land. He suffered through

    47-706 - 93 - 7 : QL 3
    page 169

droughts and crop failures, yet he remained faithful. 'Thy will be done,' he would tell God. Finally, while out plowing under the stalks of his dead crops, he slipped and fell into the dirt, and his mule kicked him in the head. The man turned his gaze skyward and said, 'God, Thy will be done. But this shit's got to stop.'"

This patchwork quilt of remembrances is selective--poetic license I believe it's called. My dad, like all dads, did some things that I didn't particularly like OR appreciate. And so what? I too am at an age where I think life is too important to be taken seriously. I care little any more about what he did not give me, and instead, take great joy in recollecting that which he did and still does. People speak of his great legacy, of his accomplishments, of his prolific career but dedicate few lines to his talent as a father. He is a man that loves his children. He gave to me many gifts: a smile I still travel 2,500 miles to see as much as I can and laughter and gentleness. He gives me the belief that honorable people can stay honorable; that not all angels fall. He expresses love for each of his children that transcends both our failures and successes. I can think of no greater endowment a parent can give a child.


(By Norma Udall)

It seems strange, somehow, to realize that someone close to us--in our immediate family, no less--is a public person, admired and loved by vast numbers of people across our country--many of whom have never even met him. Yet Mo Udall's impact on them is such that they each feel they do know him, and model their lives on his lessons and his inspiration.

Indeed, we who are close to him know that he is only partly ours. For Morris K. Udall is "far more," and the "far more" part belongs to the whole world.

Out there, where the rules are tougher, he has been judged and appraised for what he is, what he has been, what he believes. The universal outpouring of reverence and affection for Mo -- most dramatically demonstrated on his retirement from Congress--is testimony to his legacy. His colleagues acknowledge him as one of the most revered and beloved Members ever to serve in the House. That is the supreme compliment for a man such as Mo.

His gift to each of us has been an understanding of the complex harmony between Man and Nature--and especially, how very beautiful it all is. He has instilled a love for all that is natural and free--and for treating all inhabitants of our planet with tenderness

page 170

and consideration. He has taught us reconciliation with our surroundings.

The strength of his integrity has effortlessly reached across party lines, bypassing dogma and political positions. In doing so, Mo Udall has added a unique human dimension to our political system. His warmth and gentle wit have earned him the respect of leaders regardless of political affiliation, and the gratitude of private citizens who have benefited from his foresight and wisdom.

And his love of the land has resulted in the protection of irreplaceable resources for the enjoyment and spiritual uplifting of generations to come.

As his wife, I feel blessed to share such an extraordinary life and to give him my continued love.



"Morris Udall . . . one of the most legislatively productive members of the House."


". . . giant of our politics and of our public life, he is a gentle man, with steel in his backbone and joy in his soul."


"Mo Udall is a leader whose good, common sense approach to issues has benefited Arizona in many ways. Not only has he done a great job as our advocate in Congress, but his leadership abilities have been recognized throughout the United States."


"Mo Udall has made a political career out of always being willing to take a challenge ... not only a great member of Congress, but a great American."


"Mo Udall has been, for many years, a friend of mine and a friend of Arizona. He is a man of conviction and integrity, and we are fortunate to have him representing us in Washington."


"Mo Udall, for all these years, has been a leader of brilliance, of compassion, of good judgment and of courage, not just for one season, but for a lifetime."


page 171

"When all things are considered, Mo Udall is the very best Congressman in the United States."

"Mo Udall is Arizona's favorite son and is the best representative in the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona or any other state."


"In this town (Washington) of loud voices and short memories, Mo has permitted conscience to speak above a whisper."


"Mo Udall is one of America's favorite political humorists; Arizona's favorite Congressman; Democrats' favorite Democrat; and my favorite son."


"When an elected official at whatever level of government wishes to emulate someone for responsiveness to the people, you don't have to look any further than Mo Udall."


"Mo Udall is one of the hardest working and most effective elected officials that this state has ever produced."


"Lifelong public servant, legendary wit, and crusader for the common man ... for many years a source of pride to all Americans."


"We are proud to have Mo Udall represent our district. Not only has he done an outstanding job representing the people of Southern Arizona, but he has also been one of the finest Congressmen in the history of the U.S. Congress."


"The fondness and respect I have for Mo is shared by all his colleagues who have repeatedly voted him to the top of the ranks. We should all be proud to have the opportunity to show him our gratitude and support. Arizona's truly favorite son."


page 172

"Mo Udall has my full support and anything that I can do to help him get re-elected I will do. Arizona will be at a great loss if he is not re-elected."

"Mo Udall is an Arizona legend who, over the years has become a national legend. He is respected and sought after for his wisdom and leadership abilities."


"Mo Udall's career is a model for every public servant in the nation. He has made us proud to be from Arizona."


"His courage, his fearlessness and his dedication have made, not only for good citizenship, but better public service."


"Mo Udall is a friend of working men and women, a consistent supporter of civil rights and social programs, and committed to protecting our environment.

"Many Democratic officeholders, past and present, were aided by Mo, who has always been there for his fellow Democrats, assisting in fundraising, public appearances and endorsements.

"And, he's been good to the Hispanic community in our state. His record in support of nutritional programs, Head Start, bilingual education and a host of other issues which affect Hispanics is consistent and appreciated."


"Morris Udall is one of Arizona's greatest assets. For two decades, he has toiled hard for Arizona in Congress and achieved major long-term goals in preserving and enhancing our precious water resources. Mo's national presence insures that Arizona and the citizens in Mo Udall's district have about the best representation in the nation."


"Few men have had as distinguished a career as Mo Udall, a man who has devoted much of his life in the service of his Country. He is a true national resource."


"Mo Udall personifies what good public service is all about. He's set an example for all of us who serve the public and who seek change at every level of government.

page 173

"His record on minority issues, particularly Hispanic issues, is solid. While the present administration has sought to remove protection for the disadvantaged in our society Mo Udall has been there to lend a hand and his voice in support of social programs which assist minorities.

"He's someone Arizona has depended upon to serve in its best interests and someone we can count on to continue doing so in the years ahead."


"Born in a desert hamlet, Mo Udall came to Washington wearing funny suits and cowboy boots. Having lost bids to become Speaker and then majority leader, he tried to lead the whole country--and lost again. His fate was simply to become one of the great lawmakers of our time."



(By James McNulty)

When he was born he was named Morris King Udall, named in part after his grandfather, David King Udall, the patriarch. His father was Levi Stewart Udall, and Mo, as he forever will be known, was Levi's middle boy.

Grandfather David King Udall was a pioneer, courageous and committed, certain he was on the cutting edge of a new order. He was a devout Mormon and practiced his faith every waking hour. He came from a culture that was almost Judaic in its reverence for law and respect for justice. So law and order, and a passion for education (which to this day sets the church apart from average American society), plus ambition and ceaseless work, have made the Mormon church the powerful institution it is today.

The moral posture of the early church synthesized law and morality. Law was not a minimum tolerable code of social conduct, but a system and culture hand-in-glove with the church and all its teachings. Mo would say in later years that the "Mormons reconciled law and religion" very well.

When David King Udall was convicted (on trumped-up charges) and sent to a federal prison in Michigan, he was wounded to the quick. Even his subsequent full and deserved pardon, granted by President Grover Cleveland, never wholly eradicated the wound of that incident. In Mo's words, "I kid Barry Goldwater whose family helped get bail for the old man. But there was nothing funny to

page 174

David Udall. He worshipped the courts and the Constitution and to have them find him guilty was worse than anything . . ."

Of course, David King Udall's real offense was a polygamous marriage, (in a Mormon-hating community), which was carefully weighed by the church authorities and only then soberly approved. An Apache County newspaper recommended David King be hanged.

Levi, David's first son, received a high school education in the St. John's area and got interested in law while serving 12 years in the office of the Clerk of the Superior Court. He signed on with LaSalle Institute, a mail-order college. Levi read, passed the bar and was admitted. He then spent his life in, with, and on behalf of the law, a career that took him finally to the Arizona Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, in his shadow grew Stew, Mo and Burr. All three were quizzed about the degree of persuasion exerted on them by their father to the life in the law, a life they all adopted. Mo told the Arizona Historical Society that his father did very little in terms of directing them toward the law, but that he did say that it was a career in which people who cared for other people could achieve some lasting satisfaction.

Mo graduated from the University of Arizona in 1949, after simultaneously taking law courses in Denver and playing professional basketball for a now defunct team. He was first on the bar examination. He began practice in 1949 with his brother, and continued there while serving 2 years as Pima County attorney, from 1952-1954. In those days county attorneys could practice privately.

After that, he went into private practice with an enthusiasm and skill that swiftly made him one of the most powerful advocates at the Bar.

He served as a member of the State Bar Board of Governors from 1960-1964, and attempted to become President of that association. But, after 10 tie votes, he yielded that ambition. In the meantime, he headed the massive overhaul of the state judiciary system, known as the Modern Courts Initiative, which created appellate courts and revised 35 Sections of Article VI of the Arizona Constitution.

The Modern Courts Initiative was not universally popular. A small group of folk learned in the law felt the change was too great and that the tall skinny guy from Tucson was getting a little bit too big for his britches. The public, however, joined an immense and political consensus and passed the initiative.

A few years earlier Mo had had the effrontery to run for the superior court when he wasn't even 40 years old. He lost, in part because Pima county used old-fashioned voting machines with tiny levers that were pushed to cast a vote. Although the law provided

page 175

Next Page: Official and Personal Tributes (Part 2 of 3)

Section Contents: Official and Personal Tributes
Previous Section: Letters from Colleagues and Friends | Next Section : Selected Speeches and Writings

Main | Contents | Illustrations | Book Cover | Title Page

Addresses and Special Orders Held in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, Presented in Honor of The Honorable Morris K. "Mo" Udall, A Representative from Arizona, One Hundred Second Congress, First Session
Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1993