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Michael Thompkins
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by Michael 3/23/2009 2:39:00 PM

I received this sad email earlier this week:

Palm Springs Iconic Former Mayor Frank Bogert, The Cowboy Mayor of Palm Springs, Dies  (Contact: Amy Blaisdell Director of Communications City of Palm Springs (760) 323-8250 March 23, 2009)

Frank Bogert, Palm Springs’ iconic former cowboy mayor, passed away at his home Sunday night surrounded by his family. He was 99. Bogert, a noted cowboy famous for his rodeo ensemble, was Mayor of the City of Palm Springs from April, 1958 to January, 1966 – when the Mayor was an appointed member of the City Council by the City Council. In 1982, Bogert became the City’s first directly elected Mayor after residents voted a year earlier to directly elect their Mayor. He served until 1988.

“Frank Bogert was a remarkable and truly iconic Mayor who gave his life to Palm Springs,” said Mayor Steve Pougnet. “He worked tirelessly and unselfishly to support any local philanthropies, to cheerlead countless community events and to promote the town he loved and helped create. His public service, quick wit and candid rhetoric will be greatly missed by everyone in Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley. He was a one-of-a-kind… and a true pioneer whose name was synonymous with Palm Springs. I extend my deepest condolences to his family.”

I immediately was lost in reflection on one early afternoon in late June, when this writer had the privilege to interview Frank at his home in Palm Springs. It was a completely unassuming home for an equally egalitarian man. I spent a totally enjoyable hour with Frank discussing our writing careers, his mastered and mine fledgling. His opening remarks to me were that he had read Gun Play and, so far, he had only found one mistake. In Gun Play, I had written that the fountain at the airport had a concrete circular parapet. He corrected me that it was made of canterra stone. 

In our time together that day, the most significant impression I had of this man was his regard for all the citizens of Palm Springs that he had served, the rich and the poor, the powerful and the weak, and the residents of elegant desert castles and the homeless desert hermits. I looked forward to another visit. Soon.  Today, March 23, 2009: Would that I could...visit again.

I want to share that day in June with you when Claudia Whitsitt (one of my writing students) and I interviewed Frank at his home. The tape is unedited in Windows Media format as I hadn't quite got around to how I would best use it ; honoring Frank now seems appropriate. Technical notes include the fact that his living room was full of light, sound from neighborhood construction and, most of all, Frank's 99 year-old spirit.   

Download the interview. 


 Born Jan. 1, 1910, Bogert arrived in Palm Springs in the 1920s  More...


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The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions.