Life is off to a fresh start for the 70-something sons of Arizona legend Barry Goldwater, with Barry Jr.'s divorce and Michael's bankruptcy wrapping up last month.
The Chapter 7 bankruptcy of Michael Prescott Goldwater and wife, Constance, was discharged on July 1, leaving credit-card companies, department stores, and other creditors — including Michael's sister Joanne — hanging for tens of thousands of dollars.
Meanwhile, a consent decree was filed on July 30 in the divorce proceeding of Barry Goldwater Jr. and his second wife, Sylvia DeLucia, ending a seven-year marriage that had seen its first divorce filing six years ago.
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Goldwater Jr., a former Republican Congressman from California who lives in Scottsdale, has lived in the public eye in recent months due to his support of solar firms in their high-profile battle with Arizona Public Service. (Click here to read "Flare-up," our comprehensive July 11 article on the fight over "net metering.") But his personal life hasn't always been full of sunshine.
The 75-year-old once had been pretty cool for a congressman, tooling around on a skateboard in congressional buildings and smoking pot inside his office. A right-winger who was soft on social-conservative issues, it appeared Goldwater Jr. was on track to rival the political achievements of his iconic father.
Then came the devastating loss of a primary election in 1982 for a seat in the U.S. Senate, followed by an investigation into allegations that several members of Congress had been using drugs.
Goldwater Jr. escaped criminal charges and denied publicly that he'd used cocaine or pot. But was encouraged by his family a few years later to enter a drug-rehab clinic, reportedly due to his affection for coke.
Goldwater Jr.'s political career was over, but he'd made a fortune early on as a stockbroker and, like his siblings, apparently had access to the family's once-sizable trust fund. Though financially secure, Goldwater Jr. fretted about his decaying reputation in a lengthy 1983 People article, lamenting the pressures of having been born into a family in which extreme success was expected.
Finding the right woman also has been a challenge for him.
Goldwater Jr.'s first marriage broke up in the mid-'70s. One of his girlfriends met with misfortune: Loretta Clarke Guinan, a young married woman he'd taken as a lover in the summer of 1984, disappeared a few months later after agreeing to testify against her husband, a lawyer and accused thief. The woman's husband, Michael Guinan, was suspected in the disappearance; Goldwater Jr. was the last person to speak with her.
It wasn't until 2006 that Goldwater Jr. married again, this time to jewelry-store clerk Sylvia DeLucia. They filed their first of three divorce proceedings just one year later.
Neither Goldwater Jr. nor his ex-wife called us back for this story, so we can't tell you why it took three tries. But after starting and stopping a potential divorce twice, once in 2007 and again in 2010, the couple got serious this year.
Goldwater Jr. tried unsuccessfully to have the court records in the case sealed, his lawyer arguing in a motion that his client was a well-known businessman and political figure and "if this case remains open to the public, husband's career could be substantially and negatively impacted."
The judge said he might allow some records to be sealed but not all. It doesn't look as though any were sealed. Yet none of the records we saw looked all that interesting, so we're not sure what Goldwater Jr. was worried about.
Goldwater Jr. fought the terms of the divorce his wife wanted, which was $2,500 a month and $10,000 in legal bills. He argued that he shouldn't have to pay so much because of Zarta, LLC, a jewelry-cleaning company he and his wife had started as a way to make her "self-sufficient," and because she'd received job offers from a jewelry company.
In May, court minutes show, Goldwater was ordered to commence paying $2,500 a month to DeLucia, plus her attorney's fees. One weird thing about the order, though, by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sam Myers: It says the $2,500 a month is for child support. Yet as far as we know, Goldwater Jr. has only one kid, Barry Goldwater III, through his marriage to Susan Gregory, and Goldwater III seems too old to require child support.
In any case, the short, apparently tumultuous marriage to Sylvia was not inexpensive for Goldwater Jr.
But if the eldest son of Barry Goldwater, who died in 1998, feels any misery for which he'd like company, he could always give his brother, Michael, a call.
Michael Prescott Goldwater, 73, tells New Times this week, "I'm at the bottom now."
Bankruptcy records show that Goldwater, a former California contractor, and his wife were allowed to discharge in Chapter 7 bankruptcy more than $220,000 in bank loans and credit-card bills.
The couple, who live near Indian School and Goldwater Boulevard, appear to have given in to temptation at nearby Scottsdale Fashion Square. Among other debts, they owed Nordstrom nearly $11,000, Dillard's more than $7,000, and Macy's about $2,700.
Another loan they don't have to repay because of the bankruptcy discharge: $17,000 borrowed from Joanne Goldwater, the oldest of the late Senator Goldwater's four children.
We had to ask Michael Goldwater: How did this kind of financial failure happen to the son of "Mr. Conservative," who was always more into fiscal than social conservatism?
"Just not enough income to match the outflow, that's basically it," was the glum-sounding Goldwater's answer. "I haven't had a job in some time. We had medical problems. I'm just at the end of the rope."
What about the family trust?
"There was some money when dad died — that's been gone for some time," he says, adding that the couple plans to sell their Scottsdale home and move into something more affordable.
Money problems or not, Michael Goldwater vowed to continue a website that showcases Barry Goldwater's work as a photographer and to help raise money for a $30 million Goldwater library planned for Mesa.
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Despite the foibles of some of his children, Barry Goldwater's legacy as Arizona hero and the founding father of the modern conservative movement shows no sign of tarnish.
Barry Goldwater's other two children, Joanne and Peggy, have capitalized on their dad's good name by joining a food business started by one of Joanne's daughters, Carolyn Goldwater Ross. Another of Joanne's daughters, CC Goldwater, co-produced with HBO films a documentary about her grandfather a few years ago. By the way, she's appearing at a screening of the film this Saturday at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe.