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Members of Congress Fondly Recall Ex-Rep. Bob Stump

Members of Congress remembered ex-Rep. Bob Stump, the 13-term Arizona Republican who died Friday from a blood disorder, as a “gallant soldier” and “gentleman” whose unflappable commitment to the military had left the United States’ defenses stronger during a time of international instability.

“We have a nobler and more lethal armed services contingent in this nation because of Bob Stump,” said Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), who succeeded Stump in the Northern Arizona district — which includes parts of Phoenix and the Hopi Indian Reservation — after his retirement in 2002.

“Congressman Stump had a patriot’s devotion to those who served our country in uniform,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in a statement. During his 26 years in Congress, Stump helmed the Veterans’ Affairs and Armed Services committees. He was a strong supporter of military pay raises, missile defense and military construction projects.

The 76–year-old Stump, who served as a combat medic in the Pacific Theater during World War II, was first elected to the House as a Democrat in 1976. He switched to the Republican Party in 1981 after voting for President Ronald Reagan’s budget and tax cuts.

Stump’s frugality was exemplified in the running of his Capitol Hill office, where he kept a small staff and personally responded to telephone calls and constituent mail.

“He was his own secretary,” said former Rep. Sonny Montgomery (D-Miss.), who called Stump his “best friend” while in Congress.

“This guy, he washed his own windows,” recalled Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), who took over for Stump as chairman of the Armed Services panel at the start of the 108th Congress. “He always turned money back to the government in terms of staffing and equipment. He was a real conservative.”

Stump, a Seventh-day Adventist, was a regular at the House’s weekly morning prayer breakfast, where he wasn’t above pouring the coffee for freshman Members, said Hunter.

The cowboy boot-wearing Stump, a cotton farmer, was also known for his proficiency on the rodeo circuit, noted Idaho Rep. Butch Otter (R). “He should have been in [the National Cowboy Hall of Fame],” asserted Otter, a former member of the hall of fame’s board of directors. “He was a hell of a bull rider in his day … [and] a good cowboy. … He was no bigger than a minute — a typical bull rider, real thin and wiry and tough.”

“Bob Stump represented a lot of the classic Southwest character: the steadfastness, loyalty, candor, bluntness and a disdain for long-windedness,” noted Hunter.

A spokesman for Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) said the office is looking into sending a Congressional delegation to Stump’s funeral, which will take place Wednesday at the Glendale Seventh-day Adventist Church in Phoenix. Stump will be buried at Phoenix’s Greenwood Memorial Cemetery.

Stump is survived by his wife Nancy; a daughter, Karen Stump; two sons, Drs. Bob and Bruce Stump and five grandchildren.

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