Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio revealed his wife’s death over the weekend and thanked the many people who reached out to give their condolences, including former President Donald Trump.
Arpaio told The Arizona Republic that Ava was 89 years old when she died on Saturday afternoon around 3:30 p.m. after being hospitalized for two weeks with cancer complications.
On Twitter, Arpaio said, “My wife Ava passed of cancer over weekend w/family at her side. Married 63 years, she supported my 57 yrs in Law Enf. Thanks to everyone who loved & stood by my wife. Pres Trump called Ava several times when she was fighting cancer & called me yesterday extending his condolences.”
He went on to say that she also made sure that our two children and he were always happy.
Ava, a devout Catholic, had received last rites, according to Arpaio.
“I’m blessed to know that she’s now in heaven,” he said.
The former lawman praised Trump in an interview with The Western Journal last week, praising him for being so loyal to Ava during her cancer fight.
He remembered telling his wife a few years ago when he woke up, “I finally found my hero. Took over 80 years, and that’s Donald Trump.”
According to Arpaio, Trump called Ava after she was diagnosed with cancer in 2016 and followed up with her.
According to the former lawman, he didn’t have to call my wife many times to check on her, even when he was president.
“I was with him to begin with. And so I don’t forget those things,” he continued.
Arpaio was one of the first significant officeholders in Arizona to publicly support Trump during the Republican primary in January 2016. He is known for his tough stance on illegal immigration.
Ava was diagnosed with cancer in the same month, according to media reports.
According to The Arizona Republic, Arpaio wrote on Facebook in May 2018 that doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix had discovered Ava was in “full remission.”
Later that year, on the occasion of their 61st wedding anniversary, Arpaio wrote an article for The Western Journal praising his wife.
“As the old song goes, she has been the ‘wind beneath my wings’ through it all,” he wrote.
They met in Washington, D.C., in the 1950s, where he was a police officer, and she was a bookkeeper.
We shared a D.C. apartment—the Woodner Hotel, a nice place that is still standing—but that wasn’t how we met, he explained.
We met because my partner on the Washington police force had been unsuccessful in his attempts to contact her, so I asked him for her phone number so I could try again.
I had no idea who she was, but I was up for a challenge and the chance to meet someone new.
They became friends over the phone after discovering how much they both loved dogs, which became a topic of conversation when he heard hers barking in the distance.
Arpaio was from Massachusetts, and Ava Lam was from Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.
When Arpaio relocated from D.C. to Las Vegas to work for the Las Vegas Police Department and then the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in Chicago, they remained in touch.
Ava visited him in Chicago, and the two married in a civil ceremony on December 22, 1957.
They married in a formal ceremony at a Catholic cathedral in Mexico City, where they had been moved, a year later.
Ava plunged straight into Arpaio’s undercover job, impersonating a drug dealer’s wife on the phone at times.
She danced with a film star who was also an alleged drug runner on another occasion while they were stationed in Turkey, Arpaio remembered.
When the couple was sent to Mexico City for another stint with the Drug Enforcement Administration in the early 1970s, Ava’s culinary skills came in handy on the diplomatic front.
The DEA wanted to stop the influx of narcotics into the United States from Mexico, and it needed the Mexican government’s support to do so.
“My wife’s blueberry pie, of all things, assisted in making greater cooperation possible,” wrote Arpaio, Mexico’s attorney general at the time, Pedro Ojeda Paullada, loved it, he explained.
“Pretty much every time he came to my home thereafter, my wife made him pie,” Arpaio related. “It was good old-fashioned American homemade pie diplomacy!”
During his 24 years as Maricopa County sheriff, from 1993 to 2017, Arpaio praised his wife for her support.
It was a high-profile job, and I was subjected to numerous threats, which, of course, affected my wife and children. They weren’t just threatening words. There were several arrests made. He wrote that not only did they threaten him, but they also threatened Ava.
The couple had two children: Rocco, a son, and Sherry, a daughter. They also had four grandchildren.
My accomplishments must be credited to Ava. In his 2018 article, Arpaio concluded that she had been a wonderful wife, mother, grandmother, and partner in the fight against crime.
What does the Bible say about this? ‘Who can find a virtuous woman? Since she is worth much more than rubies … At the gates, her husband is well-known … He compliments her.
Lori Klein, a former state senator and member of Arpaio’s Arizona Republican national committee, told The Western Journal, “Ava was the most kind, gracious Southern gentlelady.”
She was an inspiration to all of us, and her presence with our sheriff would be sorely missed, she said. “Our prayers are with Sheriff Joe and his family.”
Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona said on Twitter, “I was profoundly saddened to learn of the death of Ava Arpaio, Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s wife of more than 60 years.
“During this challenging time, our thoughts and prayers are with Sheriff Joe and his whole family.”