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Pratt – elder statesman of Legislature – dies

Frank Pratt on June 7 2013, at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Eggs and Issues breakfast. Pratt passed away Sept. 21, 2021, after a long illness. Pratt was a lawmaker since 2009, representing parts of Pinal and Gila counties. (Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Rep. Frank Pratt died on Tuesday. 

Pratt, 79, a Casa Grande Republican, had represented Legislative District 8, which includes parts of Pinal and Gila counties, since 2009. He served several terms in the House before switching to the Senate in 2015; in 2020, he ran for and won one of the district’s House seats. House Republicans said in a statement that Pratt, who was the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, died after “a long illness.” 

“Frank Pratt is an irreplaceable figure in the Arizona State Legislature,” House Speaker Rusty Bowers said in a written statement. “Our prayers are with Frank’s wife, Janice, and his family, and we hope for them to know how very much we appreciate Frank’s service to our state. The honor, integrity, and high ethic by which he conducted himself in his service is incomparable. He loved what he did and wouldn’t let anything stop him from doing it. He never quit. Like Jesus’ observation of Nathanael, I would say of Frank that he was a man “in whom is no guile.” 

Pratt was in poor health for much of the 2021 session. He lost partial use of his right hand in January, and in February he was hit by a car, injuring his other arm. He spent much of the year voting from home via Zoom rather than coming to the Capitol. In late February he had to be taken from the House to the hospital after not eating or drinking enough during a marathon floor session. 

Rep. Regina Cobb, R-Kingman, who was presiding over a committee meeting Tuesday afternoon when the news came out, said she got to know Pratt and his wife Janice well during the 2021 session since, due to his condition limiting his ability to move on and off the House floor quickly, he spent much of his time in her office, which is closer to the floor. She called for a moment of silence in his honor. 

“He is one of our most valuable members of the state House of Representatives,” she said. “He has been with us for many, many years. I can’t imagine anybody with more integrity.” 

Colleagues of Pratt’s from both sides of the aisle quickly expressed their condolences. 

“Frank Pratt was kind and respectful to all,” tweeted Kirk Adams, former House speaker and chief of staff to Gov. Doug Ducey. “A true gentleman who loved serving and solving problems for his constituents. He was my friend. Prayers for his family.” 

“Frank Pratt was always kind and receptive to me when I went to speak with him about education issues,” said Chris Kotterman, director of government relations for the Arizona School Boards Association. “A genuinely nice man whose presence at the capitol was a welcome relief from some of the partisan rancor. May he rest in peace.” 

House Minority Leader Reginald Bolding, D-Laveen, said he would miss talking to Pratt on the House floor.

“We may not have always agreed, but he was never once disagreeable,” Bolding said. “He loved his work for his constituents and always showed up ready to work. And although he was not vocal, when he spoke, his words carried weight.”

Pratt’s seatmate Sen. T.J. Shope, R-Coolidge, called Pratt “a trailblazer not just in Pinal County politics but also in life. While most knew him to be a quiet type who played his cards close to the vest, I knew him as somebody of deep conviction and a firm belief in right and wrong.” 

Shope said all Arizonans are better off due to him. 

“I am truly saddened over his loss and I offer my prayers and condolences to his wife Janice and his family,” Shope said. “Rest in peace to a man who espoused what it is to be a gentleman legislator and a great human being.” 

Pinal County supervisors will be in charge of appointing another Republican to finish Pratt’s term. 

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