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'Cowboy Legislator' Jack Brown Dies At 86

Published: Thursday, October 29, 2015 - 4:39pm
Updated: Tuesday, March 9, 2021 - 1:55pm
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Arizona lost one of its last “cowboy legislators” yesterday - Jack Brown, a Democrat from St. Johns died. He was 86 years old.

Brown was first elected to the House in 1963 and served in both the the House and Senate on and off until his retirement in 2010 - more than 40 years in office overall. As his last legislative session wrapped up, I sat down with Brown in his office at the capitol, and asked him what it was like when he first started.

"Well, I didn’t know very much about it. I’d never been to the capitol building until I was elected and came down here to be sworn in, so I was pretty green. I learned a lot, and I was surprised at how much there was to do on the state level."

During his time in the legislature, Brown served in leadership, both in the House and Senate. When not at the Capitol, he worked on his family’s ranch, and as he said, “dabbled in real estate.” Over his decades in office, he witnessed countless changes - but he lamented one of them.

"We used to work together, with the Republicans and Democrats, without fighting and fussing and blaming the other side all the time. And, that’s one thing that’s changed is we’ve gelled into two sides that hardly want to even talk to each other, let alone work together."

When people look back at Brown’s legacy at the Capitol, this is what he said he'd like them to think of.

"You know, one thought comes to mind is that they would say, ‘Old Jack Brown thought that he was pretty important, but not all that great important, and Jack Brown had the philosophy to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ I’ve always thought that I’d kind of want to treat you about like I’d expect you and hope you would treat me."

Brown passed away Wednesday at the age of 86.

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