(Senate - December 09, 2003)

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[Page S16112]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


 Mr. DOMENICI. Mr. President, with a heavy sense of sadness 
today, we mark the passing of former Congressman Joe Skeen from New 
  On Sunday night, Joe Skeen lost his valiant battle with Parkinson's 
disease. Joe's passing is very hard for me to accept even though he had 
been ill for so long. We have lost a great friend to New Mexico. Joe 
fit his district like a hand in a glove, and that fact will define his 
legacy as a public servant and a man of the people. My heart goes out 
to Mary and the Skeen family. In visiting with them, I know their 
sadness and sense of loss is severe.
  I had the highest honor of serving the State of New Mexico with this 
amazing man for more than 20 years. Joe was first elected to the House 
of Representatives in 1980 as a write-in candidate. He is only the 
third man in the history of this country to achieve this feat.
  As great an accomplishment as this was, history will show that it was 
among the least of his great achievements. As I am sure you can 
imagine, the litany of successes that Joe has had in his work for New 
Mexico is much too long to go into here today. Suffice it to say that 
New Mexico is infinitely better for having had Joe Skeen representing 
us in Congress; this country is better for having had Joe participate 
in making decisions that affect the entire Nation.
  Joe was the first to tell you that he had not done it on his own, 
however. He had a partner in his great adventure who walked beside him 
every step of the way. Mary, his wife of 57 years, was a calming 
influence in the storm that is the life of a Congressman. She made it 
possible for Joe to continue to be a ranching Representative, running 
the family ranch while Joe served in Washington.
  Since Joe Skeen retired from Congress in 2002, I have missed working 
with him on behalf of New Mexico. We were partners in so many projects 
for more than three decades. I am from our State's largest city, 
Albuquerque, and Joe was a rancher from one of the many rural parts of 
our State. Our different backgrounds did not prevent us from working 
together; rather, I would characterize them as allowing us to form an 
even better partnership on behalf of New Mexico.
  We first got to know each other in 1960 when I was fresh out of law 
school and Joe was an up and coming member of our party. A decade 
later, in 1970, we teamed up together to run for Governor and 
Lieutenant Governor respectively. And, again in 1980, when Joe Skeen 
was first elected to Congress, we had the opportunity once again to 
work side-by-side. More than anything, Joe and I were able to use our 
respective positions on the House and Senate Appropriations Committees 
to help New Mexico. He was always a good, solid and dependable man, and 
always a champion for his district. He certainly left huge shoes for 
those who follow him.
  Today, my wife Nancy and I mourn. Joe is at rest, and our prayers are 
now with Mary, who has been such a force behind Joe and all his