PHOENIX – An 8-foot-tall bronze statue of late U.S. Sen. Barry M. Goldwater unveiled Monday will be displayed at the State Capitol before heading to Washington later this year to represent Arizona at the U.S. Capitol.
In 2008, the Legislature approved replacing a statue of mining magnate John Campbell Greenway in the National Statuary Hall. Each state is represented in the hall by two statues, with Arizona’s other one honoring Father Eusebio Kino, the Spanish missionary and explorer.
“I think Barry is really the metaphor for Arizona, and when you think of the first 100 years of Arizona you can’t not think of the Goldwater family,” said Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who unveiled the statue. “The senator defined our political landscape with the same energy and spirit that he relished in the physical landscape.”
National Statuary Hall, one of the most popular rooms in the U.S. Capitol, is visited daily by thousands and is the site of special events such as those honoring foreign dignitaries.
Goldwater, who earned the nickname “Mr. Conservative,” served five terms in the Senate and won the 1964 Republican presidential nomination before being beaten soundly by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
He was born in Phoenix in 1909 and ran his family’s department store before pursuing a career in politics. He died in 1998.
Deborah Copenhaver-Fellows, a Sonoita resident selected to create the statue, said she was humbled to honor Goldwater. She is recognized nationally for her bronze and silver sculptures, some of which can be seen in the Reagan White House collections.
“I just think, to have had the privilege to sculpt this man that was as loved as he was, was actually easy but at the same time it was a challenge to do him justice, to demonstrate the respect I have for him,” she said. “He’s everything that’s important in the world that I’m involved in – his integrity, his humanity, he’s truly a renaissance man, and everything that I learned about him built upon my original perception of him.”
The Arizona Historical Advisory Commission selected Copenhaver-Fellows from a group of five finalists. Each submitted a life-size bust of Goldwater and miniature of a life-size statue.
Copenhaver-Fellows said the piece was created over the course of 27 months and that the Goldwater family assisted in the process.
“Aesthetically there was a lot of input from the family, which was wonderful, and there were probably five changes from my original draft,” she said. “These weren’t difficulties necessarily; they just extended the duration time to execute the piece.”
Bennett, wearing a “Goldwater for Statuary Hall” pin in the style of a vintage campaign button, said his own family has a connection to Goldwater.
“One of our cherished possessions in the Bennett-Bulechek family is a picture of Barry and my grandfather in 1964 when Barry was running for president,” he said. “That year my grandfather Don Bulechek was the chief of the Smoki people in Prescott and Barry was an honorary member of the Smoki people. He loved the way they were preserving Native American history.”
Bennett said Goldwater would eventually become an honorary chief of the Smoki people and don traditional headdress and paint.
The 1,700-pound statue be on display at the Capitol Museum for several months before heading to Washington.
Greenway’s statue has represented Arizona in the National Statuary Hall since 1930, but Sen. Adam Driggs, R-Phoenix, who sponsored legislation urging the Library of Congress to approve the change, said Goldwater is an obvious choice.
“If there’s one person that symbolizes Arizona in its first 100 years of statehood, that would be Barry Goldwater,” he said.
Barry M. Goldwater:
Bio: Born in Phoenix in 1909 and graduated from the University of Arizona. Served in Army Air Corps during World War II and helped found the Arizona Air National Guard. Served five terms in the U.S. Senate between 1953 and 1987, interrupted by a run for president as the GOP nominee in 1964. Died in 1998 and age 89.
Some Things Named After Him: Barry M. Goldwater Terminal at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport; Barry Goldwater High School in Phoenix; Goldwater Boulevard in Scottsdale.