Phoenix, AZ

About Arizona's first female governor, Rose Perica Mofford

Scott Murdoch

PHOENIX, AZ - The State of Arizona Research Library continues its series of recognizing and honoring female leaders in Arizona by showing appreciation to Arizona's first female governor, Rose Perica Mofford.

Rose Perica Mofford is the youngest of six children born in 1922 to Austrian immigrants who settled in Globe, Arizona. Her father was employed as a copper miner. Her mother was the proprietor of a boarding house. 

When the Old Dominion Mine, the community's main employer, closed in 1931 during the Great Depression, her family and other residents were badly impacted by it. Rose developed a tremendous drive, a strong work ethic, a knowledge of working-class politics, loyalty, and empathy for the issues of hardworking Arizonans as a result of the unpredictable ups and downs of mining life. 

Between her junior and senior years at Globe High School, organizers of the Cantaloupe Queens, an all-girls amateur softball team, requested her to join the team for exhibition games. That summer, she travelled to 33 states and appeared in 20 games. That experience taught her about the enormous personal rewards that sports provide for individuals as well as the economic development opportunities that sports provide for communities.

Her public service career began when she was a teenager while collecting 1500 signatures on a petition to nominate Joe Hunt for State Treasurer. Hunt then invited her to be his secretary when he won the election in 1941. She spent 22 years as an assistant to Secretary of State Wesley Bolin after her time with Hunt. 

She was able to accomplish a lot over those years. She implemented new computer technology as Secretary of State, including a system that linked her office to data from the Federal Election Commission. She also collaborated with county recorders to improve the election process across the state.

Rose was sworn in as Arizona's 18th governor after the Arizona Senate decided to impeach Governor Evan Mecham.

She founded the Governor's Youth Commission Against Drugs, established the Governor's Office of Drug and Substance Abuse, and oversaw the establishment of Arizona's first statewide Drug Prevention Resource Center.

She was a driving force towards the reinstatement of a paid state holiday in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. And through the creation of a Commerce and Economic Development Commission, she bolstered economic development initiatives.

Rose was one of the founding members of the Arizona Softball Foundation's Board of Governors. She was inducted into the Arizona Softball Hall of Fame and the Cactus League Hall of Fame on two occasions. She has served on a number of boards, charities, and committees and won several accolades for her work over the years, including the Distinguished Public Servant Award and the Dedicated Humanitarian Award from St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.

Rose Perica Mofford ascended to political heights that no other Arizona woman had previously held, paving the way for other women to follow in her footsteps.

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