Pair of old-timers<br>inducted into hall
A former park naturalist and a longtime El Tovar Hotel chef were honored Saturday afternoon as the latest recipients of the Grand Canyon Hall of Fame Award for Community Service.
Tom Carmony of the Grand Canyon Pioneers Society reads Bill Suran’s plaque, which was being held up by Al Richmond.
The Grand Canyon Pioneers Society honored two individuals during the organization’s annual picnic at Shoshone Point. The award is sponsored by the Pioneers Society and the National Park Service.
D. Louis Schellbach, a naturalist who worked for several years at Grand Canyon, was well-published for his work.
Al Richmond, who helped found the award with former Grand Canyon National Park superintendent Rob Arnberger, said Schellbach’s work is still referenced today by those in the field. But just as impressive as his professional work was Schellbach’s contributions to the community.
"When it came down to donating money, he was there to do that also," Richmond said of Schellbach, now deceased.
The second recipient of the award was Eladio "Eli" Gomez, an exceptional chef who worked for the old Fred Harvey Co. Gomez, now age 95, lives in Washington state and could not attend the picnic.
"He was well thought of in the community by everybody," Richmond said. "He was just there when people needed him. When people were short of money and fell on hard times, Eli was one who dug into his pockets."
Richmond shared a few stories of Gomez, such as the times when the National Park Service would look to him to cook at the El Tovar for visiting dignitaries.
"This is an award for community service," Richmond said, who reflected fondly on years past when community spirit at Grand Canyon Village had a deeper meaning. "A lot of the community service here has been on an individual basis. Quite a few old-timers have been acknowledged by this, as far back as Emery Kolb."
Both Schellbach and Gomez fit the criteria for the award, which includes making personal contributions of money, time and work over a period of years.
"Both of these folks were recommended for their community service by previous recipients of the award," Richmond said. "We rely on their recommendations as they know better than anyone who has been involved in community service at the Grand Canyon."
The Pioneers Society also honored one of its own with a special award going to William C. Suran. The Pioneer Award, which is not presented every year but when warranted, has gone to Harvey Butchart, Gale Burak and George Steck in the past.
The Pioneers Society’s Tom Carmony said Suran has "contributed more to this society than anyone else." Members of the organization may know Suran best for his work as editor of The Ol’ Pioneer newsletter. In that publication, Suran has produced numerous articles on the history and lore of the Canyon and the Colorado Plateau.
"He’s done the newsletter from the beginning ... Bill and (wife) Sibyl put an awful lot of hard work into that," Richmond said. "It’s really become his life. Sibyl picked up the other half of it and it’s been a good partnership. No matter what you hear from Bill, he enjoys it."
Suran also contributed to local history as an author of two books on Emery and Ellsworth Kolb. Suran’s efforts on building and preserving the Pioneers Society were also noted, along with significant contributions he made to the organization’s Web site.
Suran has also made several contributions through historical photographs and documents to the special collections and archives department at Northern Arizona University’s Cline Library.
"They hoped to give the Grand Canyon Pioneers Society some form, substance, credibility and legitimacy as an historical organization," Richmond said.