A pi­o­neer’s farewell

Fam­ily and law­mak­ers re­mem­ber ef­fec­tive­ness, hu­mil­ity of trail­blaz­ing Ari­zona con­gress­man

The Arizona Republic - - Front Page - Ronald J. Hansen

Sur­rounded by his fam­ily, his for­mer col­leagues in Washington and hun­dreds of those he helped over 23 years in Congress, for­mer U.S. Rep. Ed Pas­tor was re­mem­bered Fri­day as a man of hu­mor and hu­mil­ity and an in­spi­ra­tion, es­pe­cially to Ari­zona’s His­panic com­mu­nity.

His two-hour funeral at St. Fran­cis Xavier Catholic Church in Phoenix was, by turns, mixed with laugh­ter, pride and hints of the sad­ness his Nov. 27 death at 75 leaves for those who knew him best.

U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, a Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat and the in­com­ing speaker of the House, praised Ari­zona’s first His­panic mem­ber of Congress as a trail­blazer who sought to make “Amer­ica more Amer­i­can.”

“He was one of the first to call to the at­ten­tion of the na­tion the plight of our ‘dream­ers’ years ago,” Pelosi said, in per­haps the most di­rectly political com­ment of the ser­vice.

Pas­tor em­braced the “beau­ti­ful of Amer­ica,” she said.

U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ari­zona, praised Pas­tor’s “hum­ble, but enor­mously ef­fec­tive pub­lic ser­vice to the peo­ple of Ari­zona.”

Pas­tor’s funeral at­tracted political dig­ni­taries rang­ing from Gov. Doug Ducey and U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake to U.S. Reps. Raúl Gri­jalva and Ruben Gal­lego, who fol­lowed him as His­panic rep­re­sen­ta­tives for Ari­zona on Capi­tol Hill.

The church was filled to ca­pac­ity and fea­tured a mari­achi band play­ing hymns in Span­ish.

“What was it about Ed that made him so spe­cial? First was his good na­ture. Let’s face it, it was hard to turn Ed down, but it was gen­uine, not a political ploy,” Kyl said.

“Ed was a prag­ma­tist. He un­der­stood the art of the pos­si­ble. It’s one rea­son he had so many suc­cesses . ... He was pas­sion­ate, but not pushy. He had dig­nity, but also hu­mil­ity.”

Pas­tor did not seek re-elec­tion in 2014, At the time, he was the se­nior mem­ber of Ari­zona’s House del­e­ga­tion and served on the pow­er­ful Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee.

A for­mer long­time mem­ber of the Mari­copa County Board of Su­per­vi­sors, Pas­tor was sworn into Congress on Oct. 3, 1991. He had won a Sept. 24, 1991, spe­cial elec­tion for the seat that had been va­cated by Rep. Mor­ris Udall, D-Ariz., who stepped down be­cause of de­clin­ing health.

In Washington, Kyl said, Pas­tor could work to­ward bi­par­ti­san so­lu­tions with­out aban­don­ing his loy­alty to Demo­cratic val­ues.

“It is pos­si­ble to be both, to be loyal to party and to be bi­par­ti­san,” Kyl said in a message per­haps in­tended for oth­ers as well.

Pas­tor’s wife of nearly 53 years, Verma, of­fered one of the more touch­ing trib­utes when she noted the cou­ple’s in­aus­pi­cious roots from eastern Ari­zona’s min­ing towns.

“Lit­tle did I know,” she said, di­ver­sity “that when I whis­pered, ‘I do,’ the ad­ven­ture of a life­time was about to be­gin . ... We were 22, small-town kids. One of us had a big dream, a sense of jus­tice, equal­ity and a work ethic that was un­par­al­leled.”

Pas­tor en­joyed pol­i­tics to the end and kept in touch with his for­mer col­leagues in Washington — usu­ally on speak­er­phone, Verma Pas­tor said. But he also en­joyed help­ing his grand­chil­dren with their chem­istry and math, re­veal­ing his life­long pas­sion for ed­u­ca­tion.

Daugh­ter Laura Pas­tor, a mem­ber of the Phoenix City Coun­cil, praised the first re­spon­ders who tried to save her fa­ther’s life and those who were es­cort­ing the fam­ily to his burial.

She said she was proud of her fa­ther’s many achieve­ments, specif­i­cally tout­ing his work to open bilin­gual nurs­ing pro­grams across the state’s com­mu­nity col­leges, which helped open new ca­reer doors.

“This was my dad at his best,” she said.

Yvonne Pas­tor, his younger daugh­ter, added some of the hu­mor of her fa­ther.

She re­mem­bered his abrupt and lyri­cal wake-ups for school, his big hands wash­ing her face and his help with a hair­cut that went awry.

“Let’s just say in a mat­ter of one hair­cut, I went from Yvonne to Ivan,” she said, draw­ing laughs.

“He was a gift to you, but the great­est bless­ing to us,” she added.

Pelosi brought smiles to the au­di­ence as well. She noted Pas­tor was an in­flu­en­tial mem­ber of the Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee. She pointed out the light rail that reg­u­larly whooshes past the church, say­ing, “That is what is known as an ear­mark.”

Pas­tor, Pelosi said, fondly echoed the Rolling Stones in his ef­forts for his dis­trict.

“You don’t al­ways get what you want, but I’ll make sure you get what you need,” she at­trib­uted to him. “‘And you may not get ev­ery­thing you want from me, but what you got, you got from me.’ He could be as­sertive in that way.”


U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi and oth­ers at­tend for­mer Rep. Ed Pas­tor’s funeral.

Pall­bear­ers carry Pas­tor’s cas­ket af­ter Fri­day’s funeral in Phoenix. SEAN LO­GAN/THE REPUB­LIC

Fam­ily and friends at­tend Fri­day’s funeral for for­mer Rep. Ed Pas­tor at St. Fran­cis Xavier Catholic Church in Phoenix.


Pas­tor served Ari­zona for 23 years in Congress.

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