Bob Goldwater Croaks

A photo of the Bobster, from a 1977 New West article...

Expect the usual, tired civic-booster blowjob-ism from most other local media on the news of Barry's bro Bob Goldwater heading for that big pro-am golf tourney in the sky. Bob Goldwater, 96, was Sen. Barry Goldwater's little brother, as well as the father of lunkheaded, mush-mouthed immigrant-basher Don Goldwater -- the rocket scientist who lost to Len "Premarital" Munsil in the Republican goober-natorial primary. Bob G. was also the father of the Phoenix Open, now known as the FBR Open. (Which of these progeny would you be most proud of?)

Bob G. has been in ailing health for a while, but CC Goldwater got him in front of cameras before his demise for her weepy HBO biodoc Mr. Conservative: Goldwater on Goldwater. By all accounts he was smart, attended Stanford, ran the Goldwater department stores, and had been a director of the once-influential Valley National Bank. He was well-known for his sense of humor, and invented a popular yarn involving his brother off the cuff one day about how his big bro was once told he couldn't play at a certain golf course because he was Jewish, "Barry told them it was all right -- he'd play just nine holes because he was only half-Jewish." Old-timers still like to tell that one.

He and Barry liked playing pranks on each other. One year, Bob gave Barry an old fire truck as a surprise Xmas gift. And in his '88 autobiography Goldwater, Barry tells of how he snookered Bob into the passenger seat of a plane when Barry was learning how to fly and gave Bob the ride of his life. "He has never completely trusted me since," wrote Barry.

Bob G. also liked to drink and to gamble. And like Barry and their childhood pal Harry Rosenzweig, they palled around with mobsters both in Phoenix and in Las Vegas. Bob's mentioned as a "high roller" in the Reid and Demaris true-crime tome The Green Felt Jungle. And in the '70s, the Arizona Project exposed some unsavory details about Bob G. The IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors) rehashed reports that the Valley National Bank helped finance The Flamingo Hotel and Casino. Also, the IRE alleged Bob G. was connected to erstwhile bootlegger Moe Dalitz, mafioso Peter "Horseface" Licavoli, and gambling honcho Clarence "Mike" Newman.

Phoenix was built in part on back-slapping and deal-making with such shady characters, so I'm not judging the guy, any more than I'd judge Barry. I didn't get to talk to Bob G. for my Goldwater Uncut cover story. I tried, but everyone told me he was really out of it. So it's prolly OK that it didn't pan out. Sounds like he was a cool dude. Wish I could've met him.


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