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Remarkable Women of Arizona: Rose Mofford Part 1

This is a short series on three remarkable women who helped to shape the Globe-Miami Community and the state of Arizona.

Globe’s most famous citizen, Rose Mofford, may remember the grief shared by the whole community at Vickrey’s untimely death. Born Rose Perica in Globe in 1922, her father and mother were Austro-Hungarian immigrants, and he became a copper miner. Her marriage to Phoenix Police captain T. R.Lefty Mofford in 1957 ended in divorce, but they remained friends until he died in 1983.

Rose was Globe High School’s first female class president, active in both academics and sports. She was a deadeye hitter and a powerful fielder, according to those who knew her back then. A former teacher said, She was definitely good enough to play on the boys’ baseball team, but of course that wasn’t allowed.

Globe’s star athlete became an All-American softball player, but on her father decided it would be best if she turned down an opportunity to play professional basketball with the All-American Redheads. When she addressed students in the gymnasium of her alma mater in 1988, she said the class prophecy for her was that she would become the manager of the New York Yankees ball club.

Rose Mofford began her state career at age 17, as soon as she graduated from Globe High School, in 1941. She started as secretary for state treasurer Joe Hunt, and from then on developed a knack for being at the right place at the right time, loyally serving the Democratic Party. She followed Hunt when he became tax commissioner, but left to become business manager for Arizona Highways Magazine in 1945, returning as executive secretary to the tax commissioner two years later. When Hunt retired in 1960, Mofford was fired because the new commissioner felt that a man would be better for the job. Mofford then became executive secretary to Arizona Secretary of State Wesley Bolin, and in 1975 she became assistant director of the State Revenue Department.

Secretary of State Bolin became governor in 1976 when Governor Raul Castro resigned to become Ambassador to Argentina, and he appointed Mofford to serve out his term as Secretary of State. She did not succeed Bolin when he died in office in 1978 because she had not been elected to office, but was she was elected Secretary of State on her own for three successive terms in 1978, 1982, and 1986.

When Governor Evan Mecham was impeached for improper use of state funds and obstruction of justice, Mofford was sworn in as Arizona’s first woman governor on April 4, 1988. For the next two years she worked to restore dignity and stability to the office, and chose not to run for election in 1990.

After a fifty-year career in state government, she retired to dedicate her time to civic and charitable activities. She was elected to the Arizona Softball Hall of Fame, and both Phoenix and Butler (north of Kingman) have named municipal ball fields in her honor. When she retired from the Governor’s Office, one reporter wrote that her friends said she’d come a long way from that tall red-haired girl in Globe with the mighty throwing arm. It is certainly appropriate that a copper miner’s daughter would become the first woman governor of the Grand Canyon State.

As the Arizona Statehood Centennial approaches, it’s time to look back and see how we got here. Globe City contributed a great deal to our state’s history, especially through independent professional women like Sarah Sorin, Irene Vickrey, and Rose Mofford. Who knows how many more are lost to the pages of history? That’s a question future historians may answer in the next 100 years.

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About Jim Turner

Jim Turner is an author, historian and speaker. His recent book, "Arizona: Celebration of the Grand Canyon State," is a pictorial history of Arizona. He has contributed several historical pieces for Globe Miami Times.

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