Many of us paid our respects yesterday when we attended the funeral services of our good friend former State Senate President John Greene. We remember John as a sharply intelligent, enormously humble, forever patient, and supremely kind public servant.
Former Governor Symington captured much of John’s spirit in his brief eulogy yesterday.
Whether you knew John or not, his words were worth hearing yesterday, so we provide them to you today below:
Death holds a great paradox.
When we lose a friend too soon – and like many of us here today I have lost a few – we feel an awful void, and a sudden absence.
And yet we also feel their presence in a new and deeper way.
Perhaps it’s God’s way of showing us things we otherwise overlook.
We stop for death. And when we stop, we somehow see more things, and see them more clearly.
John Greene’s absence and his presence are both large, and both felt here today by all of us.
He was gifted with one of the sharpest minds, yet completely without conceit or intellectual pretense.
He was among a small handful of the brightest lawyers to serve in the Arizona legislature in the past quarter-century, including his colleague then, Marc Spitzer, and our current Attorney General, Tom Horne.
Rare in both law and politics, he was less drawn up by ego, and driven more by imagination.
He was purposeful and determined in his work, yet loving and kind toward those near him.
He was always strong, and yet reliably gentle.
My own time with John is of course defined by our years together at the Capitol. He was a skilled and unfearful legislative partner in everything we accomplished there.
Along with Mark Killian and other members and staff here today – including a certain high-energy, street-smart, west side whip by the name of Jan Brewer – we accomplished a lengthy list of bold and consequential things.
Those things have been serving the people of Arizona well ever since.
Disdaining the confines of the Capitol, and longing to hear authentic voices of real voters, we traveled across our state together.
It was a roving outreach to regular people in wonderful Arizona towns. We called it “Government On the Road.”
This was to be distinguished from what they had in Washington, and what they still have now . . . . . which is more like “Government Over the Cliff.”
John shared our healthy disdain for the little potentates on the Potomac.
He carried the 10th Amendment in his pocket, and on his heart. When we told them that day in 1995 that they weren’t going to close our Grand Canyon – and you will recall we told them in rather dramatic fashion – John was there.
When we told them they were not going to superintend our prison system, John was there too. At one point we had made plans to surround the executive tower, if necessary, to prevent federal marshals from entering to arrest the Corrections director at the whim of a federal judge.
John loved his adopted state. He brought his Staten Island toughness, wrought on the football fields of his youth, to the task of leading Arizona and defending its rights.
He was a man of great character and ability and presence, and we feel it again here today.
He has once again gone on the road, without us now, for a time. But we will meet again.
When we do, I’d wager John will still have the 10th Amendment in his pocket. He’ll still have that Irish sparkle in his eye. And he will still have that same good will and kind regard for the next fellow, in even greater measure.
Infinitely greater measure.
So long, friend, and on behalf of a grateful state, thank you. We will see you again soon.
– Former Governor Fife Symington, October 10, 2013