Mack McLarty on the passing of Rep. Jim Kolbe

December 6, 2022

I know all of us were saddened to learn of the passing of our colleague and friend Jim Kolbe on Saturday.

We were proud to call Jim a member of the McLarty Associates team, where Nelson and I recruited him to join us as a senior advisor in 2007. Previously, he had served eleven terms as a US congressman, representing his home state of Arizona with decency, patriotism, and independence. From supporting abortion rights to backing immigration reform to advocating for free trade, Jim’s leadership was characterized by principle and what he believed was in the best interest of our nation and its people.

I experienced that passion and resolve in my very first encounter with Jim. It was during my time as President Clinton’s White House chief of staff; I was visiting Congress to brief The Wednesday Group—a gathering of moderate Republicans. The topic was NAFTA, which our administration was committed to moving forward, building on the work of the Bush administration before us, and I thought we’d be well-positioned to find common ground. Jim put me in the hotseat, asking tough questions and demanding straight answers, which I did my best to provide. It wasn’t the easiest way to begin a friendship, but I think we gained considerable mutual respect, and it left an impression on both of us!

As a member of our team, Jim made meaningful contributions, delivering excellent work for our clients and enriching our workplace community with his intellect, experience, and good nature.

In Jim’s office at McLarty Associates, he kept a photo of himself from his time as a congressional page over sixty years ago. This picture always struck me because it symbolized Jim’s lifelong commitment to public service. Whether serving with distinction in the Vietnam War or the halls of the Capitol, he remained that same young man at heart, ready and eager to make a difference for all Americans.

On behalf of our entire firm, I want to convey our deepest condolences to Jim’s husband, Hector. We hope he takes comfort in knowing that Jim’s life stands as a profile in courage that will inspire future generations of American leaders.

In grace and peace,