PHOENIX (AP) — Dozens of mourners on Friday bid farewell to Arizona’s first Hispanic member of Congress, the former U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor, who was remembered as a devoted public servant and doting family man in a ceremony that filled a large Phoenix church with laughter and sometimes tears.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi remembered Pastor on Friday as a lawmaker whose humor united people from both sides of the political aisle.
“Everything he did, he was always making it more wonderful,” said Pelosi, a Democrat from California.
The service at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Phoenix began with a mariachi group singing “De Colores,” a popular Spanish-language folk anthem.
Republican Sen. Jon Kyl, who served alongside Pastor as a member of Senate, said the Democrat was humble but enormously effective.
“Let’s face it: It was hard to turn Ed down.” Kyl said. “Ed was always a champion for those who needed the representation the most.”
Pastor was remembered especially for his hard work bringing light rail service to Phoenix, which he believed would help low-income people in the southern part of the city he represented.
“For him, the light rail represented the opening of a new world to those who had no access,” said his daughter Laura Pastor, who followed him into politics to become a member of the Phoenix City Council.
“That was my dad at his best — a roll-up-your-sleeve kind of guy who was patient, understated and always himself,” she said.
The liberal Democrat known for his bipartisanship died last week after a heart attack. He was 75.
His body lied in state at the Arizona State Capitol Sunday. Another viewing that drew thousands of mourners was held Thursday evening at church.
Mourners at the service on Friday included Cindy McCain, the widow of Republican Sen. John McCain, Arizona’s congressional delegation, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey and retired Sen. Jeff Flake.
Pastor was born in Claypool, Arizona, a small mining town about 100 miles (160 kilometers) east of Phoenix. His father worked in the copper mines, and Pastor was the first in his family to graduate from college, earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Arizona State University.
Pastor taught high school chemistry in Phoenix and later earned a law degree at ASU.
He joined the staff of former Gov. Raul Castro in the 1970s and made his first foray into elected office when he successfully ran for Maricopa County supervisor in 1976, where he was the lone Democrat for 14 years, Laura Pastor said.
Pastor was elected to Congress in 1991 and retired in 2014.
Pastor was also survived by his wife, Verma, his other daughter Yvonne, four grandchildren and a sister.
Pastor and his wife would have celebrated 53 years of marriage later this month.
“Little did I know that when I said, ‘I do,’ a lifetime of adventure was about to begin,” Verma Pastor said.
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