PHOENIX — Arizona state Rep. Frank Pratt of Casa Grande died Tuesday after a long illness, state officials said.
Since 2009, the Republican Pratt, 79, has represented Legislative District 8, which includes Casa Grande, Eloy, Coolidge, Florence, Superior and southern Gila County.
Gov. Doug Ducey ordered flags at all state buildings be lowered to half-staff from sunrise to sunset Wednesday in honor of Pratt.
“Representative Frank Pratt was a champion of rural Arizona,” Ducey said in a statement Tuesday. “He was a staunch supporter of economic development, an advocate for workforce training programs and someone who believed in the necessity of developing sound water policy. In both chambers of the Arizona Legislature, he was unwaveringly dedicated to serving the people of Arizona and expanding opportunities.”
Pratt was a farmer and rancher before forming a Casa Grande swimming pool construction business with his son in 1986.
Pratt served first in the House, then in the Senate before returning to the House at the beginning of the year. He was a loyal Republican and a quiet legislator who rarely spoke on the House and Senate floor.
On Christmas Day in 2010, Pratt was tied up and beaten at his business on Cottonwood Lane in Casa Grande, found hours later by his worried wife, Janice Pratt. The assailant, a homeless person who had broken into the business, stole his Rolex watch and vehicle, and Pratt was hospitalized.
More recently, he missed many legislative days this year as he battled an illness.
“He was a trailblazer not just in Pinal County politics but also in life,” said Sen. T.J. Shope, a Republican who represents the same district as Pratt. “While most knew him to be a quiet type who played his cards close to the vest, I knew him as somebody of deep conviction and a firm belief in right and wrong.”
Ducey said Pratt did it all — public servant, business owner, rancher, farmer and family man.
“He was one of the good guys, and we’re lucky he called Arizona home,” Ducey said. “Representative Pratt was asked once why he went into politics. His answer was simple and straightforward: He said he was ‘just trying to make Arizona a better place.”
House Democratic Leader Reginald Bolding also paid his respects to Pratt, despite being in different political parties.
“Representative Pratt was a deeply respected member of our legislative family who loved this state with all his heart. We may not have always agreed, but he was never once disagreeable,” Bolding said in a statement Tuesday. “He loved his work for his constituents and always showed up ready to work. And although he was not vocal, when he spoke, his words carried weight. I will personally miss our conversations on the House Floor, and our caucus will all miss the presence of a class act who never put partisanship in front of relationships. “
There are now three and soon to be four vacant seats in the Legislature. Former Sen. Kirsten Engel, D-Tucson, and former Rep. Aaron Lieberman, D-Paradise Valley, resigned to focus on campaigns for higher office. Rep. Bret Roberts, R-Maricopa, is moving out of state and plans to step down on Sept. 30.