- Category : 1909-births
- Type : GE
- Profile : 2/5 - Hermit / Heretic
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Tension 4
American politician, a U.S. Senator from Arizona in 1952 and conservative candidate for president against L.B. Johnson in 1964. Prior to politics, he was formerly a Colonel in the USAF. A pilot in WW II , he ferried C-47 cargo planes over the hump between India and China.
His father was Baron Goldwater, the son of Michael Goldwasser, a Polish-Jewish immigrant, who fled Poland at age 14 in order to avoid conscription into the Russian army. Once in American, the family name was changed. Grandfather Goldwater eventually settled in Arizona with a successful mercantile business after peddling wares to the miners of the California gold fields. Baron Goldwater built the family store into the fashion center of the territory. The eldest of three children, Barry grew up developing a life-long interest in the Native Americans of the Southwest. He said the Navajos gave him the nickname ChaLee, meaning "curly hair." Goldwater credited his love of the wide open spaces and his Episcopalian faith to his mother, Josephine Williams Goldwater, a Nebraskan who was territorial Arizona's first registered nurse. His uncle Morris helped found the Democratic party in Arizona and taught him that "limited government was the secret of keeping freedom." Goldwater attended Staunton Military Academy and considered West Point, but entered the University of Arizona. He was active in sports and his grades were mediocre. He went into the family business in 1929 upon the death of his father.
He entered politics in 1949, winning a Phoenix City Council seat. Three years later he was elected to the U.S. Senate where he served five terms, a total of 30 years of service. Goldwater became noted through his years of public service as the true pioneer of the conservative political Right. His bid for the Presidency in 1964 brought his straight, "shoot from the hip" rhetoric and conservative ideas before the American public. His opponent, Lyndon Johnson, riding on the passion of a recently slain and popular President Kennedy, used this against him in TV ads. He pictured the famous ad of a little girl plucking petals from a flower, then the mushroom cloud, an idea attributed to journalist Bill Moyers, who then worked for Lyndon Johnson. Goldwater lost overwhelmingly, carrying only his home state of Arizona, becoming one of the most influential losers in American history. It was also during this campaign that actor Ronald Reagan made a stirring TV speech on Goldwater's behalf which later catapulted Reagan into politics and American history. A fellow senator later described Goldwater as "…Ronald Reagan's John the Baptist."
Goldwater's silver hair and rugged features presented an image of the confident frontiersman of the Old West. He relished his reputation as a profane, whiskey-drinking, devil-may-care WW II flier and, with his gravely voice, knew how to communicate with people in the street. Before President Nixon's impending resignation, Goldwater was called upon by White House chief of staff, Alexander M. Haig, Jr., to inquire what the Senate would do if there should be an impeachment trial. Goldwater told him, "The president would be lucky if he got 12 votes," and that he would not defend the president. In his later years Goldwater startled people with his favorable statements about Democratic politicians. He stated that he most admired President Truman and considered Senator Hubert Humphrey a man he liked as a friend and a politician. He encountered the wrath of evangelist Rev. Jerry Falwell when he supported abortion rights, and opposed them on school prayer and busing. When news reports circulated in the 1980s about a political figure who had "shacked up with some girl, Goldwater said: "Well, if they're gonna apply that criterion, there'd be no politicians left." He later defended the right of gays to serve in the military.
Goldwater married Peggy Johnson of Muncie, Indiana in 1934. Peggy Goldwater founded the Arizona chapter of Planned Parenthood. They had two sons and two daughters: Barry Goldwater Jr., a former California Republican congressman who became a Phoenix investment counselor; construction executive Michael Goldwater; and businesswoman Joanne Goldwater and Peggy Goldwater Clay. There are ten grandchildren. Peggy Goldwater died on 11 December 1985. His family was often left alone at their home, Be-Nun-I-Kin, which means "house on the top of the hill" in Navaho, while Goldwater attended to the family business and, later, a life in politics. Shortly after his 83rd birthday Goldwater married hospice nurse and health care executive Susan Shaffer Wechsler, more than three decades his junior. Goldwater's lifelong interests included flying, ham radio and old cars.
Goldwater successfully underwent triple bypass heart surgery in 1982. He suffered a stroke in 1996 that damaged the frontal lobe of his brain. Biographer Jack Casserly stated that Goldwater suffered from Alzheimer's disease toward the end. Goldwater died shortly after 7 a.m. on 29 May 1998 as he wished, at Be-Nun-I-Kin, in his own bed, in his own room, overlooking the valley he loved with family at his side.