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The Life of Rose Mofford - Gila County Historical Museum

Rosie Perica MOFFORD is the great and special lady who was born and grew up in Globe, Arizona. Years later when Rose became a household name to the people of Arizona, she attributed much of her success to her wonderful family and growing up in the rural copper mining community of Globe. The Gila Gila County Historical Museum has a permanent display of former Governor Rose Mofford, hometown girl.

Attending Globe schools, Rose was elected president of her class every year from 7th grade through her senior year. She belonged to many clubs and held leadership positions. She was valedictorian of her graduating class. She played woman’s softball, basketball, and tennis. In 1939 before her senior year of high school, Rose was chosen to play in an amateur softball team as a first-base player. During that summer, Rose toured cross country playing softball in 33 states. She even played in a game at Madison Square Garden in New York City. As a charter member of the Arizona Softball Foundation, Rose was recognized as Foundation Woman of Year in 1976. She is also in the Arizona Softball Hall of Fame. As a teenager, Rose learned that sports provided great benefits to the players and spectators in health and social wellness. For the rest of her life, Rose supported both men’s and women’s sports of all kinds. She knew sports could benefit everyone as well as the economy.

Rose Mofford had a career of public service to the state of Arizona that lasted 46 years. She started in 1940 by working as a secretary in the state treasurer’s office. She then moved with her boss to the Tax Commission which is now called the Department of Revenue. After 11 years, Rose left her government job to work at the magazine, “Arizona Highways”. Her first 15 years of employment taught her many things about the people of Arizona. Immigrants from all four corners of the globe had moved to Arizona looking for employment and a better life. Their hard work, success, and contributions to Arizona gave Rose a deep understanding of what people need to achieve, and how state government can play a role in helping them reach their success.

Rose returned to government employment in 1955 as assistant secretary to the Secretary of State. In 1975, the current governor appointed her to a director’s position in the Department of Revenue. In 1977, Rose, a hardworking and intelligent lady, found herself at the right place at the right time. Governor Raul Castro, resigned his position to accept an appointment as ambassador to Argentina. Wesley Bolin, the Secretary of State became the new governor, according to Arizona law. Rose was asked to take his place as Secretary of State. She was the first female Secretary of State in Arizona and finished Wesley Bolin’s term. Sadly, Wesley Bolin died after serving only four months as governor. Because Rose was appointed Secretary of State and not elected; she could not take the position of governor. Bruce Babbitt became the new governor according to Arizona law. Rose was elected Secretary of State in the next election and served for a total of 13 years. In 1988, after the impeachment of Governor Evan Mecham, Rose became governor. This made Rose the first female Governor of Arizona. She finished Mecham’s term but did not run in the next election.

Rose Mofford is known as the “First Lady of Arizona”. Her beehive hairstyle made her easily recognizable. As governor, she found herself in a big job under difficult circumstances. As the leader of Arizona, her past experiences taught her how to bring government officials together and inspire them to move forward doing their best to serve people and their communities.

*story told and written by the Gila Country Historical Museum

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