November 18, 2009

Udall Honors Governor King on Senate Floor

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tom Udall, D-NM, took to the Senate floor today to honor former Governor Bruce King, who died last week at the age of 85. The following is the text of Udall’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

“I rise today to celebrate the life – and mourn the passing – of one of New Mexico’s great public servants.

“This past Friday, Bruce King – the three-time governor of New Mexico and a constant advocate for the average person – left this world after 85 years of devotion to his family, to his community and to his state.

“Bruce King was a self-made man who came from modest roots. Back in 1918, his parents traveled to New Mexico from Texas and traded their Model T for a homestead track, where they raised Bruce and his siblings. Along the way, the elder Kings instilled in their children an appreciation for a hard day’s work, a compassion for people, and a love of public service.

“Bruce carried those lessons into adulthood, and into a life defined by public service.

“He served in the Army in World War II, as a Santa Fe County Commissioner, as a member of the New Mexico House of Representatives and later Speaker of that House, and finally, as a three-term governor elected in 1970, 1978 and once more in 1990.

“Bruce’s legacy as Governor will be felt for generations. Due in no small part to the advocacy of his devoted wife, Alice, Governor King created a new Cabinet-level department focused on the welfare of New Mexico’s children – we call it the Children, Youth and Families Department. Thanks to Bruce and Alice’s vision, more New Mexico children are safe and secure. More are healthy and ready to learn. And more have the support they need to follow their dreams.

“Governor King’s contributions didn’t end there. His leadership was instrumental to the creation of New Mexico’s large and enduring “rainy day” funds, which to this day continue to provide substantial support for education. He reformed New Mexico’s school funding formula so that money is equally distributed across the state. Thanks to Governor King, state education funding now follows the student, regardless of income or geography. He also was an advocate for aggressive economic development, recruiting a new Intel plant to Rio Rancho; for the creation of better, safer roads statewide; and for the establishment of a new border crossing with Mexico.

“But despite all these achievements, what New Mexicans will most remember Bruce for is something more simple, and much harder to come by in politicians these days.

“Bruce wasn’t in politics for the power or for the prestige. He was in politics because of the people. He loved the people of New Mexico, and the people of New Mexico – from Lordsburg and Clayton to Shiprock and Carlsbad and everywhere in between – they loved him right back.

“Bruce enjoyed nothing more than talking to New Mexicans. And almost every morning you would find him doing just that at El Comedor Restaurant in Moriarty. He had a booming voice, and was famous for greeting friends and strangers alike with a handshake and a down-home, ‘How y’all doing? Fine. Fine.’

“I will always remember Bruce as a true cowboy from Stanley who had the most generous spirit. He always saw the best in people. He always did the right thing for New Mexico.

“My family was fortunate to call Bruce and Alice our friends. Our daughter, Amanda, even went to work for Alice in her first job out of college, and had stayed close with them ever since.

“New Mexico will miss the Kings. And we all know our state is a better place for their service and their dedication to its people. As Governor King is laid to rest this week, I ask my colleagues to join me in honoring this remarkable public servant.”