Traffic Slows For Grizzly Greeter

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by Carole Mathewson
roundup contributor
Teddy the Bear is a traffic stopper at the intersection of Timber and Zurich drives, but he's best viewed from Zurich. The tall carved bear, which stands upright, is owned by Phyllis and Dave Slater, who've had him about three years. Phyllis commissioned sculptor Johnny Quick of Dewey to carve him, she said, and the bear is often in costume.


"He has been Santa Claus, a hula dancer, a cowboy for rodeo days and a pirate," Phyllis said.


She has a photograph that shows Teddy in an Easter hat, holding an Easter basket. A sign reads "Easter Bunny, stop here."


Both Phyllis and Dave smiled as they talked about their bear.


"It's enjoyable to hear children laugh as they pass," she said. "People bring out-of-state visitors to see Teddy."


As "Teddy the cowboy," the bear was entered in a national amateur photograph contest sponsored by the International Library of Photography, Phyllis said, and he made the semifinals.


"He will definitely be in the (library's) book 'Dawn's Reflection,' Phyllis said. They will know in January or February if he is a finalist.


Both the Slaters are Phoenix natives. They moved to Payson in 1996 from Phoenix. Both are retired -- Dave from Lucent Technologies and Phyllis from Alpha Omega health care. Between them, they have three children and two grandchildren. Her daughter, Debbie Lebesque, moved to Payson two months ago. She has a son, Keith Lebesque, who is 11 years of age.


When Teddy is not in costume, people ask, "When are you going to dress him, and what will he be?" Phyllis said.


Teddy is currently celebrating Halloween and Phyllis and Dave invite people to drive past and say hi.


"Everyone is welcome to stop by, " Phyllis said. "Just be careful of the traffic."

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