ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Growing up on her family’s bean farm in Mountainair, Beatrice Roach Gottlieb could not have known that one day she would rise to become Secretary of State of New Mexico.
Gottlieb died earlier this month at age 92. She served as Secretary of State from 1951 to 1954.
Her daughter, Jimmie Sue Roach Jones, said Gottlieb spent her professional life working for the state.
“Besides being Secretary of State, she served as state personnel director and as secretary to Gov. John Burroughs,” Jones said.
She gained some national notoriety for being a 32-year-old woman elected to an important government position. She was interviewed by the magazine Glamour in its November 1952 issue, and she gave this quote in the article: “I began to wonder why the only people who were doing anything politically were men, and decided that the best way to get the women of New Mexico on their toes politically was to get into politics myself.”
But Gottlieb’s life included a lot more than work.
She was an avid golfer, a member of both the Four Hills and Albuquerque Country Clubs, and gardener as well as a history buff, partially due to her own family’s story of arriving in New Mexico in a covered wagon.
“She was always reading, and she couldn’t get enough of history, especially New Mexico history and the history of the West,” Jones said.
At a Secretary of State, Gottlieb attended a convention in New York City where she met John F. Kennedy and Joe DiMaggio, as well as other members of the New York Yankees baseball team, a story she loved to tell in her later years.
After her retirement, she spent a lot of time traveling and volunteering with her husband.
“She always had a smile on her face, never met a stranger. People just warmed up to her immediately. She was very genuine and from the heart, very giving,” Jones said. “If a person came to our house, even like a plumber or something, she’d make sure he had candy in his pocket when he left. Even at the nursing home she liked to pass out candy. She was always trying to help people and she always had this fantastic smile on her face. She always made sure she had something to give.”
Jones said her mother “always tried to help the underdog.”
“She tried to help the janitors to get better jobs, or help people without jobs get jobs,” Jones said. “She was always out there trying to help people.”
Gottlieb: Held several jobs working for the stateGained national attention after being elected at age 32Former Secretary of State and Mountainair Native Dies at 92
Beatrice Roach Gottlieb
— This article appeared on page C3 of the Albuquerque Journal