It was a moving final farewell to one of Arizona’s most distinguished citizens as funeral services were held for 102-year-old Arthur Hubbard, Sr. — a Navajo code talker instructor who was instrumental in helping win World War II for the allies. Mr. Hubbard was a man of many accomplishments.
The memorial service at Pinnacle Presbyterian Church in Scottsdale was a time to be sad and reflective, but also to appreciate a life well-lived, for Hubbard Sr. lived a very long time and did some extraordinary things. “We should all celebrate… If you are over 100 years old, you have lived your full life and he has done that,” said Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly.
Hubbard was born on January 23, 1912 in the Tohono O’odham Nation in Topawa, Arizona about three weeks before Arizona became a state. He grew up in Ganado, Arizona part of the Navajo Nation, and studied at the University of Arizona. He was the leader of a Navajo tribal band, as a trombone player and singer.
From 1939 to 1945 Hubbard voluntarily served in the U. S. Marine Corps. During World War II, he was a Navajo Code Talker instructor training over 200 men to transmit coded messages using the Navajo language. After his military duties, the then Governor Jack Williams appointed him Director of Indian Development District of Arizona. In 1972 he became state senator in Arizona, serving for 12 years until 1984. This made him the first Native American senator in the Arizona State Legislature. His other work included serving as a water rights advisor to the Tohono O’odham Nation, and as a Navajo culture and language instructor at Arizona State University. He also played an important part in the establishment of Diné College (originally known as Navajo Community College), which was the first college established within the Navajo Nation.
Hubbard was inducted into the Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame and the Arizona Democratic Party Hall of Fame. He received the Navajo Code Talker Congressional Silver Medal in 2000. A 2011 Arizona Senate resolution listed Hubbard as the first Native Americans to serve in the Senate. Tribal leaders called Hubbard a powerful advocate for American Indians.
“The talks and experiences of his teachings were to each and every one of us. It is a loss, but yet we hold that dear and continue forward,” said Hubbard’s nephew, Gordon J. Smith. Through it all, Hubbard remained humble, saying of each accomplishment: “There was a job to be done and I did it.”
He died at age 102 on February 7, 2014, in Phoenix, Arizona. On his death, flags across the Navajo Nation were flown at half-staff in his honor. He was buried at the National Veterans Memorial Cemetery, 23029 N. Cave Creek Rd., Phoenix, AZ.