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Rose Mofford, first woman to serve as Arizona governor, dead at 94

(AP Photo/Doug Mills)

PHOENIX — Rose Mofford, the first woman to serve as governor of Arizona, died Thursday. She was 94.

12 News reports Mofford died at Gardiner Home, a hospice care facility in Phoenix.

Several officials shared the sad news on social media.

Gov. Doug Ducey ordered all flags to half-staff in honor of Mofford.

President Barack Obama made a statement regarding Mofford’s passing.

Michelle and I were saddened to learn of the passing of former Arizona Governor Rose Mofford. Rose was once fired from a government position because her boss “felt it was better to have a man in that particular job.” But she was undeterred, eventually rising to become Secretary of State, and then governor – the first woman in Arizona to hold that office. In all, her career in public service spanned more than a half-century. It’s a story of tireless service, steady leadership, and a trailblazing spirit that inspired not only a state where three more women would eventually follow her in office, but an entire country. Rose showed us all what to do when somebody says we’re not good enough because of who we are – don’t believe it. Our thoughts and prayers are with Rose’s family and friends as they remember and celebrate her example.

Mofford was an Arizona native. She was born in Globe on June 10, 1922 and went on to have a storied political career.

“Rising through the ranks of state government to our state’s top office, she shattered a once-thought-unbreakable glass ceiling and served as an unparalleled role model to many,” Ducey said in a release. “She was noting short of an Arizona treasure, and will be deeply missed.”

Mofford was named Arizona’s secretary of state after Wesley Bolin ascended to the governorship when then-Gov. Raul Castro resigned to serve as the ambassador to Argentina.

Though Bolin died in office, Mofford was not permitted to advance to the governor’s office as she had not been elected secretary of state. She won re-elections in 1978, 1982 and 1986 to remain as secretary of state.

When then-Gov. Evan Mecham was impeached in 1988, Mofford took over as the most important official in the state. Despite a popular two years in office, Mofford decided against running for a full four-year term and left public office.

“Mofford’s unwavering commitment to the people of Arizona is illustrated by her decades of public service to make our state a safer, happier, and healthier place to live,” Ducey said. “Her service should serve as a model for all of us who follow her — serving with heart, determination and putting the needs of Arizona’s most vulnerable citizens first.”

Outside of politics, Mofford was quite the athlete. She was an All-American in softball and was offered to play professional basketball at one point. Several parks around the state are named in Mofford’s honor.

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