The program, started in 2002, annually celebrates 10 Arizonans who are committed to upholding the traditions, rituals and cultures of the state. Inspired by longtime valley philanthropist, the late Katherine “Kax” Herberger, and under the direction of Official State Historian Marshall Trimble, the program will recognize 10 people each year for the next nine years, culminating in 100 Arizona Culturekeepers being recognized by the state’s 100th birthday in 2012. This year’s Culturekeepers were selected from more than 100 nominees. Nominations for 2005 are being accepting now.
On Friday, each Culturekeeper will be presented with an award that describes the individual’s or group’s contributions to the state. Plaques with photos of each honoree will be displayed along the walls of Culturekeepers Hall, a special area of the hotel adjacent to the Kierland Grand Ballroom. The public is invited to participate in the uniquely Arizona event. Tickets are $25 in advance and $35 at the event. Proceeds will benefit the Arizona Culturekeepers program and Arizona Historical Foundation.
In addition to Hume and Richmond, the 2004 Culturekeepers include Dana Burden, Anna Mae Deming, Betty Fairfax, Dee Strickland Johnson, Jonathan and Maxine Marshall, Ted Ramirez, Melissa Ruffner and the Yellow Bird Indian Dancers. A special Lifetime Achievement award will be awarded posthumously to the Honorable Polly Rosenbaum. Her niece, Judy Stickney, will accept on her behalf.
“We’re proud to acknowledge these unsung heroes,” said Trimble. “These are longtime Arizona residents who spend their days working to better their communities, but rarely are recognized for their contributions.”
Embodying the spirit of Arizona, Hume’s dedication to the advancement and preservation of her community has been a lifelong labor of love. In 1953, Fayrene married Lewis Hume, grandson of Thomas Cooper Lewis, a founding resident of Ash Fork in 1882. With three boys, Hume spent more than 30 years heavily involved in Ash Fork’s school system. Today, Hume’s grandchildren help her continue that tradition.
In the late 1970s, two potentially devastating incidents in Ash Fork drove Hume to record and preserve history and to revive the community’s weakened spirit. The railroad and highway bypassed the town and a tragic fire destroyed most of the business district.
Participating in the formation of the Ash Fork Historical Society, Hume set out to designate a portion of old Route 66 as an historic highway. Today, signs commemorate the famous highway’s passage through town and attract tourists following in its path. Hume lent her energy and enthusiasm to the Ash Fork Development Association. During her tenure, she drove several initiatives, including a safe and effective water system, community center, library, health center and overall beautification of the community. For the town’s Centennial, Hume collected oral histories and photographs from as many current and former residents she could locate around the country.
In 2001, Hume’s tireless efforts were rewarded with the dedication of the Ash Fork Commemorative Monument near the site of the old Harvey House. Hume also worked to place the Arizona Department of Transportation building on the National Historical Register. That request was approved and the building now functions as a museum, providing a hands-on illustration of Ash Fork history.
A list too long to catalog, Hume’s accomplishments are a testimony to demonstrable, unconditional love for her community. She is touted as modest, kind, warm and caring. Ash Fork is the community it is in large part due to Hume’s efforts and her conviction that she can make her town a better place to live. In 2002, she was succinctly described by Richard Sims of the Prescott Courier as the “gracious keeper of the flame of Ash Fork heritage.”
“Arizona is home. I love it and cherish the many things it offers. Arizona’s diverse history reaches from Native American tribes, to the Spanish fathers and settlers of the west. With such great history, it is my wish and hope that our youth of today, including my grandchildren who are fifth generation in Ash Fork, and those to come, will understand and appreciate the early days of the Arizona Territory,” Hume said.
Richmond, northern Arizona historian, author and president of the Arizona State Railroad Museum, was born in Shenandoah Valley, Va. Richmond came to Arizona in 1963 while service as a Pararescueman at Luke Air Force Base. Although Richmond began to call Arizona home at that time, he was unable to return permanently until 1981 when he retired after 27 years of service. He has resided in Flagstaff since that time.
As a nationally recognized transportation historian, Richmond currently travels across the country sharing his knowledge of Arizona’s rich history. His 20 years with Northern Arizona University as liaison to national parks and monuments in Arizona have provided Richmond with an understanding of the people, places and events important to this unique state. The author of several books and articles about Arizona, Richmond diligently records and relates stories of its history, development and tradition.
“Al (Richmond) always makes himself available to groups and elder hostel classes and seemingly never passes up on an opportunity to keep our history alive,” said Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce CEO/President Donna Cochran, who nominated Richmond for the award. “His community volunteer service is exemplary and always directed toward historic preservation and furthering the knowledge of our history to visitors and residents alike. The Arizona State Railroad Museum reflects his passionate dedication to keeping Arizona’s culture alive.”
To recognize the enormous contribution the railroad has made to Arizona’s development, Richmond founded and now maintains the Grand Canyon Railway Museum located in the historic Fray Marcos hotel in Williams. The Fray Marcos Hotel, the oldest and largest poured-concrete building in Arizona, also serves as a depot for the Grand Canyon Railway.
With a mission to collect, preserve and exhibit historic and cultural artifacts relating to the railroad history in Arizona, Richmond also established the Arizona State Railroad Museum foundation in 1998. The first order of business Richmond undertook was development and construction of the $19 million ASRM to be located in Williams. The museum’s scope will be the more than 76 Arizona railroads and the cultural diversity that revolved around them. Virtually every aspect of Arizona’s people for the past 150 years will be included and examined.
To ensure that history remains for others to enjoy, in 1984, Richmond served as the founding president of the Grand Canyon Pioneers Society. The society awards annual scholarships and community service recognition for historic preservation in the Grand Canyon Region.
“Arizona is to me, a synonym for home, family, friends, colleagues, diversity, history, culture, heritage, mountains, desert, forests, magnificent landforms, incredible colors, railroads, endless trails, extremes of weather and environment, abundant wildlife, rivers, a sense of belonging, a place to learn, grow, explore, participate and rest. And most of all freedom,” Richmond said.
Richmond currently serves as a Williams Main Street board member and is historian of the Grand Canyon Chapter of the National Railroad Historical Society.