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Monrovian Dick Mountjoy Dies - Former State Senator

Monrovian Dick Mountjoy, former state senator and Monrovia mayor, has died. Monrovia Weekly: ; Sacramento Bee:

Robert Parry, who recently ran for City Council with Mountjoy's endorsement, wrote this tribute:

The news is out that retired State Senator Dick Mountjoy passed away last night. This is very sad news. Dick was a man, a myth and a legend. He was a man of values and character, something that reflected throughout his 40 years of service to the City of Monrovia and State of California. He was a legend because he stood up for what his faith and values and character told him were right. But, those same qualities also made him a myth. To read the media coverage at the height of his political influence, Dick was a rabid right winger, at war with those who disagreed with him. And, while he earned his legend being steadfast, such hate, spite and nastiness were the antithesis of the man I came to know in recent years with my political ventures.

I first met Dick at the El Monte airport diner, at a breakfast arranged by intermediaries when I was first thinking of running for council. Though I have long followed politics, I was to say the least intimidated to ask for the support of a man of his stature. His first words were simple and to the point (and, in retrospect, totally predictable): "When does life begin?"

But that was about as close as we ever got to a "right wing" conversation. Our chats were more about practicalities and values. Dick was unflinching in his Christian faith and proud of his family and his accomplishments in business and politics. But he was also proud of little things, like the friendships he built across the aisle in Sacramento. Dick had a mischevous streak, something that glowed through the tale he told me of his fishing buddy, a politician of the exact opposite ideology with whom he would take private trips where no newspaper would find out. That those same newspapers portrayed him as someone who would never consort with the other side didn't seem to bother him much. The substance of the relationship - the substance of who he was as a man - was more important than someone else's myth.

I spoke to Dick several times during the recent campaign and was honored to have him give the keynote speech at both of my campaign kickoffs. Shortly before that, I spent several hours one cold and rainy Sunday afternoon, talking about the mechanics of politics and the lessons he learned and the adventures he enjoyed. He made a point of telling me the story of his first foray into the State Assembly, challenging an incumbent of many years. When at a forum, that incumbent was accused of misdeeds and alcholism, Dick told me he stood up for his opponent, defending his honor as a man, despite their political differences. "I had to stand up for what was right. What was right was more important than any election."

That afternoon by his roaring fireplace will remain a highlight for me not because of politics or lessons learned or campaigning insights, but because I got to better know a man of values and character who cared about people and his community. Regardless of your politics, you, and this world, would be better off if we all lived by that standard.

Rest in Peace, and thanks for all you did for others.

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