Stewart Udall, a Western political and conservation icon who served as Interior secretary for presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, died Saturday morning at his home at age 90.
Udall was a member of a family of influential Western Democrats. His brother Morris Udall was a congressman and one-time presidential contender. His son Tom is a New Mexico Senator. His nephew Mark is a Colorado Senator.
“My Uncle Stewart was a great public servant, and a wonderful writer and storyteller,” Mark Udall said in a statement. “He was passionate about conservation, and he was a champion of Native peoples. All those who care about our national parks and the environment will miss his voice.
“Beyond his life in public service, he was the patriarch of our family, a great mentor and role model. The Udall family will not be the same without him.”
Udall was the last surviving member of Kennedy’s original cabinet. His time as Interior secretary saw the creation of the Wilderness Act, the Wild and Scenic Rivers act, an expansion of the National Park System and the creation of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Born in St. Johns, Ariz., to Arizona Supreme Court Justice Levi S. Udall and Luise Lee Udall, he served four years as a gunner in Europe in World War II before opening a law practice with his brother Morris.
He served four terms in Congress, and was considered instrumental in persuading Arizona Democrats to support Kennedy in the 1960 Democratic National Convention.
After nine years at the helm of Interior, he remained interested in the environment and Western issues, which he wrote about frequently. He represented American Indian uranium miners in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah who sued the federal government over their exposure to radiation.
A memorial is planned later this year in Santa Fe.