The passing of former Democratic Gov. Herbert Brown Maw this past weekend took Utah's oldest surviving statesman at the age of 97. Up until four years ago, he was Utah's oldest practicing attorney.
A man of great erudition, he combined a law practice with an active teaching career at the University of Utah, where he taught speech and served as dean of men - and later as president of the Utah State Senate. After an unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Senate in 1934, he sought the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 1936 but lost the nomination as a result of opposition by party leaders to his advocacy of pro-labor and pension legislation.Maw countered by sponsoring legislation that replaced the convention system of party nomination with the direct primary. This enabled him to circumvent the the Democratic Party machine and to receive the nomination for governor in 1940. He subsequently defeated his Republican opponent, Don B. Colton.
Maw fulfilled his electoral promises and completely reorganized state government in order to improve its efficiency and economy. His success in retiring the debt and modernizing state government enabled him to frustrate plans by conservative Democrats to deny him the party nomination for re-election.
Maw's two terms as governor (1941-1949) were characterized by progressive legislation that reorganized the state's major utility company and effected a substantial reduction in utility rates. The practice by mining companies of treating Utah simply as a "minerals colony" from which ores could be extracted to be sent elsewhere for processing was ended, and regulations imposed.
When he tried for a third term he was defeated by J. Bracken Lee. In his later years he became famous for doing legal work for people who could not afford counsel.
He wrote his autobiography at the age of 89, and at the age of 92, wrote another book tracing the lives of Christ's apostles after his ascension.
Maw once said, "I think the biggest mistake anyone can make in life is to retire. Every person should plan and get started on some project he or she can carry over at compulsory retirement age."
He practiced what he preached. With exceptional resourcefulness, Herbert B. Maw left a remarkable imprint on the state of Utah.