The man who once promised "never to retire from life" has died. Herbert B. Maw, Utah's governor from 1941 to 1949, died about 9 p.m. Saturday at age 97.
Maw was a conservative Democrat and a practicing attorney well into his 90s, handling pro bono cases for the poor. He was known for his physical fitness and keen mind. At age 89 he wrote one book and at age 92 wrote another, this one tracing the lives of Christ's apostles after his ascension. "One is never too old to produce something," he said in 1986. "It's as important to build a strong mind as it is a strong body."
Those who remembered the former governor recall his humor. When once asked him why he kept going at his age, he responded, "I'll look twice at pretty girls, and when I can't do that, then I'm ready to quit." He was 93 at the time.
"I have been very close to Governor Maw for most of my adult life," said former Gov. Calvin Rampton. "I am saddened to hear of his death. He was truly a remarkable man."
Maw was Rampton's speech teacher and debate coach at the University of Utah, and later served as an assistant attorney general who worked closely with Gov. Maw. "We worked together all those years. I have a deep, deep respect for him," Rampton said.
"I would have been about 7 years old when he was first elected," said Gov. Norm Bangerter. "I met Gov. Maw personally when I was speaker of the House, and I've met with him on several occasions since I've been governor. He was a delightful, energetic friend. He was very active, very interesting, and we're all going to miss him.
"He clearly set an example that you ought to enjoy yourself as you go along. I will always remember him as a man who kept his vitality and sense of humor. He continued to enjoy life and proved to all of us that there's life after politics. We'll miss him and we offer condolences to his family."
Maw served as governor during the darkest days of World War II, even lobbying President Franklin Roosevelt to bring defense industries to Utah to further the war cause. He was friends with both Roosevelt and President Harry Truman.
In 1944, Maw was challenged in his re-election bid by Republican J. Bracken Lee, a man who would defeat Maw four years later. "The truth is we didn't get along very good after those elections," Lee said.
"But we later became very good friends. The truth of the matter is I even voted for him once. I liked him as a friend over the years."
Maw, Utah's eighth governor, was born March 11, 1893, in Ogden. He graduated from the University of Utah in 1916, and then practiced law and taught English, history and commercial law at the LDS High School.
When the United States entered World War I, Maw enlisted in the 89th Division, composed mostly of soldiers from Kansas and Missouri. For the first year, he trained as an aviator, though he never flew in the war.
Instead, he served as a chaplain on the front lines - one of only three LDS chaplains serving in World War I - administering to the wounded and dying soldiers and composing letters to their survivors. He was in the heat of battle on numerous occasions. On one occasion he was in an observation balloon that was shot down and had to parachute to safety. On another occasion, he walked out of a room minutes before a shell hit the room, killing everyone in it.
"I had a lot of lucky escapes," he recalled in 1945.
He returned to Salt Lake City in 1919 to practice law. He later obtained a bachelor of science degree from the University of Utah and a master of arts degree from Northwestern University. He later taught for 17 years at the University of Utah.
He was appointed "dean of men" at the University of Utah in 1929. Two years later, he was elected to the Utah Senate, serving ten years in the Senate, including a four-year stint as Senate president.
He successfully ran for governor in 1940 and served two terms. He was defeated in a bid for a third term. He later made an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate and for state attorney general.
He married Florence Buckler of Manti in 1921, and they were the parents of four children.
Throughout his career in politics, he had a deep interest in the poor and elderly. Politically, he was a conservative Democrat in a state with conservative religious leaders.
"The people themselves are not conservative," he once said. "We're inclined to obey our leaders, and if you've got conservative leadership, large numbers of people who are more liberal will feel more inclined to follow their leaders."
Funeral services are scheduled for Wednesday at noon at the Garden Park Ward, 1150 Yale Ave., with interment in the Salt Lake City Cemetery to follow. A viewing is scheduled at Larkin Mortuary on Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m.