The man known as the voice of the Senate has died.
Senate Reader Robert “Bobby” Mogill died of pancreatic cancer May 20 in Santa Fe, said his brother, Michael Mogill of Detroit.
A friendly and sometimes flamboyant presence at the state Legislature, Robert Mogill, 74, was known for incorporating humor and a touch of theatrics into his job.
As part of his job, Robert Mogill was called upon to read legislative bills, memorials and other documents into the record. It was work that required attention to detail and a voice that could project, said Senate Chief Clerk Lenore Naranjo.
“Sometimes he would drive me crazy because he would get very emotional or cutesy with the reading, particularly with certificates, but that was just his way,” she said. “He did it that way and legislators liked him.”
Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, said Mogill carried out his job with “emotion and dedication and real feeling. When we had a certificate memorializing somebody who had died, Bobby would read it in such a way that you really paused and remembered that person.”
Robert Mogill also knew how to cut through the tension of the legislative body, particularly if lawmakers were growing anxious or cranky. Near the end of this year’s regular legislative session, he began imitating Bela Lugosi as Dracula as he read new bills into the record. At first, silence greeted his efforts, but as he continued in that tone, lawmakers began to laugh, lightening the mood.
Such efforts, Wirth said, “made me smile. It tied into his ability to read the Senate chamber. … His ability to weave in humor into a moment that otherwise might be tense was always welcome.”
Robert Mogill played the trumpet in both a mariachi band and with the Chameleons, a Santa Fe jazz band.
Dan Burke, who played in the jazz band with Mogill, said he “had a gorgeous sound, a beautiful tone, a great ear. He could read music and he could also play by ear and improvise.”
Robert Mogill fostered an interest in the arts as a teen, his brother said. After finishing high school, he earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Wayne State University in Detroit. He later earned a master’s degree in fine arts from the American Film Institute Conservatory.
He then worked in Hollywood on production teams for a number of television game shows, his brother said. “You probably wouldn’t have seen him except as the names go flying by in the credits at the end of the show,” Michael Mogill said.
Robert Mogil moved to Santa Fe in the early 1990s to care for an ailing uncle. He went to work for the state Legislature well over 20 years ago, Naranjo said.
Raquel Lopez, head proofreader for the Senate, said Mogil liked his job and the people he worked with.
“He loved the 42 senators he worked for, and they loved him,” she said. “He didn’t care about partisan politics or anything. He was nonpartisan and he worked for all of them.”
Friends said Mogill was an avid reader who soaked up information and could easily relate it if need be.
“If you asked him a question, he knew the answer, no matter what the topic was,” Lopez said.
“You didn’t need Google when you were around Bobby,” Burke said. “He had an encyclopedic memory for details, names, places, stories.”
Michael Mogill said his brother, who loved gardening and golf, was not without faults. “He had a habit of borrowing money and not paying it back,” he said. “He lost some friends in Los Angeles that way.”
About three weeks before his death, Robert Mogill called the band together under the pretext of wanting to practice.
Once they got together, he told them he had cancer. “It’s pretty serious,” he said.
And then they played together one last time.
Michael Mogill said he and others hope to hold a memorial service for his brother, who was cremated, sometime in June. Robert Mogill, who never married, is survived by his brother and cousins.