Arizona historian discusses McCain's legacy and his friendship with the late senator

PHOENIX (KSAZ) -- Some of John McCain's friends have also written their own letters to bid farewell to the late senator.

"He sat on a horse, and we rode all day in the Superstition Mountains and I told stories about the Lost Dutchman and all these stories of Arizona history," said Arizona State Historian Marshall Trimble, talking about he and Sen. McCain's shared love of history that drew them together.

Trimble said he has known McCain for 36 years, having first met him when McCain was elected in 1982 to represent Arizona in the U.S. House of Representatives.

So, what was McCain really like behind the scenes? According to Trimble, he was a truly strong person who didn't let people get the best of him.

"People try to raz him and he could give it right back to them. He didn't take it," said Trimble.

At the same time, Trimble said McCain was never rude, even during the intense presidential elections, when his own supporters would get heated.

"The lady said 'Obama is a Muslim', and John said, 'No, ma'am. He is a family man He's a gentleman, and we just happened to have differences'," said Trimble. "I thought how many other politicians would have stood up to that person, and defended his opponent?"

In his goodbye letter to McCain, Trimble wrote:

"I've been wanting to write this for sometime, but couldn't find the right words," said Trimble, who reminisced about the time they first met, what a good friend the late senator was, and how McCain even surprised him by unexpectedly showing up to his retirement party, back in 2014.

"I never properly thanked you, don't have the words to express how much it meant to me and my son Roger," said Trimble. "I'm sad, not just for the McCain family and John, I'm sad for Arizona. I'm sad for the whole world."

Trimble ended the letter on a poignant note.

"John McCain, the state and the station will never forget you. I hate goodbyes. So I will just say: always faithful."