Carlos Moorhead, longtime congressional representative, dies at 89

Former Rep. Carlos Moorhead — whose 24 years in Congress representing the tri-city area earned him the title of dean of the California Republican Congressional delegation — has died. He was 89.

Moorhead represented Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena for two dozen years after serving in the California Assembly for six years, and in that time, amassed a faithful base of support in the region.

He died Nov. 23 at an assisted living facility after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease, according to his stepson, Paul Bradford.

“I think of three key words when I think about him: principled, patient, determined,” said Bradford. “He would gladly welcome being called a workhorse. He loved working hard for his constituents.”

His stepfather, whom Bradford called “pop” since he was 7 years old, was innately calm when faced with difficult situations and political spats, he said.

“You rarely saw him get agitated,” Bradford said. “I think he modeled how to disagree without being disagreeable.”

His widow, Valery Moorhead, said in a statement the former congressman drew on his faith to motivate his involvement in politics.

“I know he felt blessed to serve this community … it was really his calling,” she said. “He felt the Lord tugging him into public service, and he did his best to care for people and serve their interests.”

After working as an attorney, Carlos Moorhead entered politics in 1967 when he was elected to the California Assembly. In 1973, he was elected as a Republican to the House of Representatives, where he served until his retirement in 1997.

Moorhead also served as Republican minority chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee and Judiciary Committee.

Eric Ashton, a Glendale CPA and longtime Moorhead confidant, praised the congressman’s ability to get along with members of both political parties.

“He was a solid Republican,” Ashton said. “He was not overly ideal. He was rational and reasonable and the Democrats liked him.”

Ashton served as treasurer to Moorhead throughout his entire congressional career. They met in Glendale in 1959 at a Young Republicans group meeting.

Moorhead later introduced Ashton to President Gerald Ford when he made a campaign stop in Glendale. The congressman, said Ashton, was on a first-name basis with Ford, as well as presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.

Ashton said Moorhead didn’t care about money and was interested in helping people, regardless of their background or party affiliation. Together, they served on the Glendale Salvation Army board of directors, of which Moorhead was named a lifetime member.

In an interview with the Glendale News-Press in 2005, Moorhead said his public service came from a deep-rooted sense of wanting to help people.

“In my real busy years, I had long days, long hours. Sometimes you'd work all night,” he said. “If you want to help all the people you want to and need to, it doesn't really stop with the clock.”

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) remembered Moorhead pulling him aside in 1996 when he was first elected to the state Senate and giving him “fatherly advice.”

“It was very touching,” he said. “He was part of a generation that worked with people across party lines and didn’t make differences personal.”

“I can’t imagine Carlos Moorhead having an ill word to say about anyone, let alone his most staunch opponent on an issue,” he added.

Moorhead is survived by his wife; three children; six grandchildren; a sister; and three nieces and nephews.

His family has set up a website in his honor — — with details about making remembrances and his memorial service, which is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Dec. 10 at Glendale Presbyterian Church.

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