Lynn’s Spin

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Caroline Ross, Peggy Goldwater-Clay and Joann Goldwater with some of their company’s products.

Many moons ago when I first began my career in public affairs, one of my mentors used to regularly remind me about the importance of poise and diplomacy by quoting Sen. Barry Goldwater: “To disagree, one doesn’t have to be disagreeable.”

Over the years, especially when media training my clients, I would use that quote myself as a clear-cut reminder that if or when they got into the hot seat, the importance of not losing their cool – that the messenger’s delivery is indeed as impactful as the message itself. I’ve often thought of Goldwater, a five-term statesman, a pretty cool cat himself, articulate and charismatic. I’d watch old clips of the senator’s speeches, noting his choice of words and inflection. He had a singular style all his own.

It’s funny how life has weird ways of intertwining, threads that weave here and there, crossing sometimes in odd and fascinating ways.  This is how I felt when I met Sen. Goldwater’s youngest daughter and Newport Beach resident Peggy Goldwater-Clay a few years ago. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the daughter of a man I had been quoting half my life, but what I do remember most about our initial encounter was how friendly, warm and engaging Peggy was from the moment we met.

Recently, Peggy and I sat down for a nice visit and I learned that she has been quite the entrepreneur over the years. It all started in 1976, when Peggy started Peggy Jane’s, Inc., a successful specialty foods company that sprang from her famous sweet hot mustard recipe and evolved into an entire line of salad dressings. Back then, women business owners were few and far between. Yet Peggy can boast bringing the very first honey mustard salad dressing to the commercial market, and in 1986, she sold her company to Knott’s Berry Farm Foods.

With capital to invest, some ground-breaking recipes and their father’s keen sense of the value of the entrepreneurial spirit, in 1989, Peggy and her sister Joann joined forces and co-founded Goldwater’s Foods of Arizona. No stranger to the food biz, Joanne had owned her own catering company in Scottsdale for more than 10 years. The dynamic duo was off on a new and exciting venture.

Together, the sisters Goldwater launched their daring “fruit salsa” concept under the company’s “Goldwater’s Taste of the Southwest” label with the release of their Paradise Pineapple Salsa. The cutting edge formula quickly became a hit, and soon the fruit salsa line grew to include Sabino Strawberry Salsa, Ruby Raspberry Salsa, Mohave Mango Salsa, and Papago Peach Salsa. Not completely bucking tradition, they also produce a line of delicious, award-winning salsas including their Sedona Red, Sedona Red Hot, Rio Verde Tomatillo and Cochise Corn and Black Bean. As the company began to grow, the two were soon joined by Joanne’s daughter Carolyn Ross, who continues to serve as the president of the company.

And they didn’t stop with salsas. Goldwater’s Foods also offers barbeque and grilling sauces, an entire line of jams, jellies, dips, and my favorite, Senator’s Chili Mix.  I was pleased to learn each of the Goldwater’s Foods products is completely natural, low-fat or fat-free.

This fact made me feel a little better recently when I made one of their famous recipes that includes a nice low-cal wheel of brie. It’s called Fiesta Brie – and I call it one of the easiest, most scrumptious recipes I’ve tried of late. And it’s so easy, yes even a caveman can make it.

Find it and lots of versatile recipes on the Goldwater’s Foods website at If you want to try a few for yourself, you can pick up Goldwater’s specialty foods at Bristol Farms or Ralphs.

Oh, and the Trader Joe’s private label pineapple salsa? I’ll let you guess where it’s sourced!

Peggy’s roots in Newport date back to her teenage years. Her parents owned an apartment at the Balboa Bay Club, so the family would spend summers away from the Arizona heat by the pool or on the waters of Newport Harbor. In his later years, Sen. Goldwater moved to Newport Beach permanently. Peggy met her husband Bob here on a blind date in 1975, they got married in 1982 and have been happily together ever since.

She inherited some of her dad’s community leadership skills, lending her time at the board level with organizations including the Air Force Academy Foundation, KOCE/PBS, UCI, Discovery Science Center, Children’s Bureau and The Foundation for the Great Park, to name just a few. Over the years, she has also supported many nonprofits as a member of the media, having written a regular column for Orange Coast magazine entitled “Above and Beyond, People Making a Difference” and as host of the Time Warner show “Eye on Philanthropy.”

As we ended our visit, I asked Peggy what it was like growing up being Barry Goldwater’s daughter, and her answer did not come as a surprise. “My Dad taught me the important fundamentals in life, such as being honest, forthright, sincere, and true to myself. He was bigger than life with a wonderful sense of humor. I am honored to be his daughter.”

Lynn Selich is a marketing and public relations consultant residing in Newport Beach. Reach her at [email protected], or follow her on Facebook at Lynn Selich-Columnist or on twitter at

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