Rose Mofford

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Rose Mofford
Rose Mofford 2012.jpg
18th Governor of Arizona
In office
April 4, 1988 – March 6, 1991
Preceded by Evan Mecham
Succeeded by Fife Symington
12th Secretary of State of Arizona
In office
October 20, 1977 – April 4, 1988
Acting Governor: February 18 – April 4, 1988
Governor Wesley Bolin
Bruce Babbitt
Evan Mecham
Preceded by Wesley Bolin
Succeeded by James Shumway
Personal details
Born Rose Perica
(1922-06-10)June 10, 1922
Globe, Arizona, U.S.
Died September 15, 2016(2016-09-15) (aged 94)
Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Thorald Robert (Lefty) Mofford (1957–1967)

Rose Perica Mofford (June 10, 1922 – September 15, 2016) was an American civil servant and politician. Beginning her career with the State of Arizona as an office secretary, she worked her way up the ranks to become the state's first female Secretary of State and first female Governor of Arizona.

Early life[edit]

Mofford was born Rose Perica in Globe, Arizona, on June 10, 1922, the youngest of six children. Her parents, Frances (Oberstar) and John Perica,[1] had immigrated to the United States from Croatia, then part of Austria–Hungary. The first female class president in the history of Globe High School, she had great success in both academics and athletics. She played basketball and was an All-American softball player.[2]

She graduated in 1939 as class valedictorian and, based upon her father's advice, turned down an opportunity to play professional basketball with the All American Red Heads.[3] She was married to Thorald Robert "Lefty" Mofford from 1957 to 1967, when they amicably divorced.[citation needed]

Civil service career[edit]

Following high school, Mofford began her career as a secretary for State Treasurer Joe Hunt. Two years later, when Hunt was promoted to the Arizona Tax Commission, Mofford followed her boss to the new position.[2] In 1945, she left the Tax Commission and became business manager for Arizona Highways. Mofford returned to the Tax Commission in 1947 as executive secretary. Following Hunt's retirement in 1960, new commissioner Thad Moore fired Mofford, saying "we felt it was better to have a man in that job."[3][4] Following her dismissal from the Tax Commission, Mofford was hired as an executive secretary by Secretary of State Wesley Bolin. She remained in the Secretary of State's office until 1975, when she became assistant director of the State Revenue Department (formerly the Tax Commission).[3]

Elected office[edit]

Sign commemorating Rose Mofford outside the State Capitol building in Phoenix, Arizona.

When Governor Raúl Castro announced his resignation to become Ambassador to Argentina, Secretary Bolin ascended to the governorship. Arizona has no lieutenant governor; the secretary of state stands first in the line of succession to the governorship if holding office by election. Bolin in turn appointed Mofford to serve the remainder of his term as Secretary of State.[5][6]

Bolin died in office on March 4, 1978. Although Mofford was Secretary of State, she held that post by appointment, so she did not ascend to the governorship. At the end of the term she ran for a full term as Secretary of State and won. She was reelected in 1982 and 1986.[4] Mofford became known in the state capital as the friendly woman with a beehive hairdo, and her office gained a reputation as an efficient operation. She herself was noted for her punctuality, answering her own phone, and replying directly to her mail. In addition to her state position, she served from 1982 until 1983 as president of the National Association of Secretaries of State.[7]

Governor Evan Mecham was impeached on February 8, 1988. Per the Arizona Constitution, his powers were suspended and Mofford became acting governor, as she was now Secretary of State by election.[5][8] While most observers complimented her on the job she performed, Mecham objected to Mofford replacing the one state department head that he had appointed.[5][9] Mecham was convicted on two of four articles in the impeachment trial and removed from office on April 4, 1988, and Mofford was sworn in as Governor for the balance of Mecham's term.[10]

Mofford's primary goal as governor was to return stability to Arizona. Her efforts were widely held as providing a calming effect following the tumultuous impeachment and recall proceedings of her predecessor.[11]

State Senate Democratic leader Alfredo Gutierrez said of her actions, "What she did was reinvest the system with dignity and honor."[2] In early 1990, she announced that she had decided not to run for election to a full four-year term.[12] She was succeeded by Fife Symington.

Personal life[edit]

She married Lefty Mofford, a captain with the Phoenix Police Department, in 1957. The couple divorced after a decade but remained friends until his death in 1983, and she kept his surname. They had no children. She never remarried.[4]

After leaving office, Mofford dedicated her time to civic and charitable activities.[2] In 1997, a scholarship fund was established in her name.[13] She was a member of the Arizona Softball Hall of Fame,[6] and municipal softball fields are named in her honor in both Butler and Phoenix.[14][15] She served as chair of the campaign committee of Attorney General Terry Goddard's unsuccessful 2010 election bid for Governor of Arizona.[16]

In the 2004 US presidential election, Mofford was a Democratic elector for Arizona supporting the presidential campaign of then-US Senator John Kerry. Arizona was won by incumbent President George W. Bush that year.[17]

On August 31, 2016, after falling at her home, Mofford was admitted to a hospice. She died there on September 15, 2016, at the age of 94.[18]

Grave marker[edit]

Grave of Governor Mofford before her 2017 grave marker was unveiled.

In 2017 a new grave marker was unveiled for Mofford's grave, which includes among other things images of her meeting Pope John Paul II in 1987 and Mother Teresa in 1989; those meetings were some of her favorite times as governor.[19]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Berman, David R. (1998). Arizona Politics & Government: The Quest for Autonomy, Democracy, and Development. Arizona: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 978-0-8032-6146-4. 
  • Johnson, James W. (2002). Arizona Politicians: The Noble and the Notorious. Arizona: The University of Arizona Press. ISBN 0-8165-2202-2. 


  1. ^ (U.S.), National Association of Secretaries of State (January 1, 1987). "National Association of Secretaries of State Handbook". National Association of Secretaries of State. Retrieved September 15, 2016 – via Google Books. 
  2. ^ a b c d Kamman, Jon (April 25, 2007). "BIO – Rose Mofford". The Arizona Republic. 
  3. ^ a b c Jennings, p. 177.
  4. ^ a b c Gruson, Lindsey (February 7, 1988). "Jokes Aside, She is Acting Governor". The New York Times. Retrieved September 15, 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c "Mofford is New State Secretary". The Prescott Courier. April 4, 1978. 
  6. ^ a b "Rose Mofford Will Seek Office". Kingman Daily Miner. April 5, 1978. 
  7. ^ Jennings, p. 180.
  8. ^ "Replacement for Mecham Says She will be `Healing Governor'". The Spokesman-Review. February 9, 1988. p. A2. 
  9. ^ "Many Give Mofford High Marks So Far". Mohave Daily Miner. February 21, 1988. p. A3. 
  10. ^ "Arizona's Mofford Sworn In". The Milwaukee Sentinel. April 6, 1988. 
  11. ^ Jennings, p. 182.
  12. ^ "Arizona Race in Turmoil As Governor Bows Out". The New York Times. January 21, 1990. 
  13. ^ "Raymond Chavez Wins Scholarship". The Pendleton Record. June 29, 2007. 
  14. ^ "Bagdad Trip Shows How Much Softball has Grown in Arizona". Kingman Daily Miner. September 16, 1982. 
  15. ^ "Park Named for Mofford". Arizona Daily Star. June 11, 1997. 
  16. ^ "Governor's race in sight for Goddard". The Arizona Republic. November 7, 2009. 
  17. ^ [1]
  18. ^ Bland, Karina; Harris, Craig (September 15, 2016). "Rose Mofford, first woman to serve as Arizona governor, has died". The Arizona Republic. Phoenix, Arizona. 
  19. ^ "Grave marker unveiled for former Gov. Rose Mofford". Retrieved 2017-09-03. 


  • Jennings, Marianne M. (1989). "Rose Mofford". In Myers, John L. (ed.). The Arizona governors, 1912–1990. Phoenix, AZ: Heritage Publishers. pp. 177–84. ISBN 0-929690-05-2. 
  • Appearances on C-SPAN
Political offices
Preceded by
Wesley Bolin
Secretary of State of Arizona
Succeeded by
James Shumway
Preceded by
Evan Mecham
Governor of Arizona
Succeeded by
Fife Symington