The folksong "He was a Friend of Mine" sung by several Udall children and their friends, was a great theme for the moving celebration of the life of Stewart Udall, former Secretary of the Interior, defender of Navajo uranium miners, and father of the current environmental movement. The three hour memorial Sunday June 20 was held at the Paolo Solari Amphitheatre under the blazing solstice sun. Friends from all stages of Udall's life, including Bruce Babbitt, Native Americans, two US Senators, renown authors, professors and environmental activists spoke from the heart.
As for so many others in the audience, Stewart was a friend of mine-- and a mentor.
Most recently, during the meetings of the Governor's Ethics and Campaign Finance Task Force several years ago, he keep my spirits up with his steadfast advocacy of public financing of elections and his warnings about the corrosive impact of money on the political system. Earlier, when I met him in 1988, during his son's (unsuccessful) run for Congress in the Albuquerque area, his broader view brought me, the be-leagured press secretary for candidate Tom Udall, down to earth. Amidst a barrage of negative advertising vs.Tom from opponent Steve Schiff, Stewart quoted Mark Twain.... "It takes only a minute for a lie to go around the world, but it takes an hour for the truth to get its boots on."
I will not summarize Stewart's celebration here (he planned it-- down to a four minute limit for each speaker) but here are a few quotes from the occasion.
Advice from Stewart: • Don't let indecision and regret take away your life-- move on
•As you age, compare who you wanted to be with who you are now
•Consider how you are viewed by your family and friends
Herbert Brown, long time advocacy partner: " He was where power, advocacy and literature intersect." A mountain climber, he was always reaching for a handhold a little higher.
Blogger's note: his results: The Clean Air and Water Acts, The Wilderness Act, a expanded National Park System, the Endangered Species Act, the National Trail System, the Land and Water Conservation Funds, and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Program.
Robert Stanton,former director of National Parks and now Deputy Secretary of the Interior Department l: "I still have the letter in which Secretary Udall, my Secretary, appointed me as the first African American park ranger in Teton National Park. This was at a time in the early sixties when I could not be served lunch at restaurants in my home state, on account of my race."
Patti Limerick, University of Colo. Western Historian, who visited Udall in his later days, for walks around Santa Fe, recalled how he he would say, "Now we can pick up the pace," just as she thought he was finishing.
Friends of Stewart's recounted his advice and a posed a question left in his wake:
" Never Neglect the Mystery" and Will You take care of the earth?
From James McGrath: Stewart's memory will green the earth-- more than once."