PHOENIX (AP) — Former Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater’s family remained silent Wednesday following a newspaper’s report that the conservative icon was near death.
Several colleagues and friends said Wednesday they hadn’t heard or were awaiting word about Goldwater’s condition. Some said they met with Goldwater recently and found him in reasonably good health.
Goldwater, 89, has been in declining health for months and was near death, The (Mesa) Tribune newspaper reported Wednesday, citing sources close to the family.
The Associated Press was unable to reach Goldwater’s wife, Susan, on Wednesday. No one answered the telephone at their suburban Phoenix home.
A Goldwater biographer said in September that Goldwater has Alzheimer’s disease. Family members said doctors had told them that Goldwater showed symptoms of the disease, but they said they weren’t convinced he had Alzheimer’s.
In 1996 Goldwater suffered a stroke that damaged the frontal lobe of his brain, which controls memory and personality. Family members said he has suffered some short-term memory loss and occasional bouts of confusion.
But colleagues and friends, who are waiting to learn more from Goldwater’s family on his condition, said Wednesday that Goldwater’s health in recent months didn’t seem to be getting worse.
Goldwater, the 1964 Republican nominee for president, had tried to stay informed on politics while still flashing that ornery personality, friends say.
“He was rather frail, but his mind was sharp,” said Jonathan Marshall, a former newspaper publisher and friend who ran against Goldwater in 1974. Marshall said he met with Goldwater at his home two months ago.
Former U.S. Rep. Sam Steiger, who was in the Arizona congressional delegation with Goldwater in the 1970s, said he met with Goldwater three months ago.
“He wasn’t robust, don’t get me wrong,” said Steiger. “But he wasn’t bad either.”
Goldwater was elected to the Senate in 1952, stunning then-Senate Majority Leader Ernest McFarland, a heavily favored Democrat. He gave up his Senate seat for the 1964 presidential bid he lost to Lyndon Johnson. He returned to the Senate in 1968.
In 1974, Goldwater told President Nixon he faced imminent impeachment amid the Watergate scandal. Nixon subsequently resigned.
Goldwater retired in 1986 after serving five terms in the Senate.