Music Teacher's Gift Struck Chord With Students


Music has a way of transforming a moment into a memory. It can bring peace to a troubled heart, and change gloom into gladness. Because of its power to heal and uplift, music is one of the greatest gifts we can give to our children.

Last week, we reported the passing of Ileane McElwee Gonzales -- a woman who spent 57 years of her life giving that gift to young and old alike. And while we reported her death and some of her accomplishments, it is impossible to report the difference she made in the lives of our children.

Many of her former students traveled great distances to Payson this week to honor her during a memorial service in the Payson High School auditorium. Student after student stood up to say that she affected them in ways that continue to resonate throughout their lives.

A music scholarship fund for string and band students has been established in Mrs. Gonzales' honor for her dedication and service to the schools and the community. Donations can be made to the Ileane McElwee Gonzales Music Scholarship Fund at Compass Bank, account No. 78264756. Checks can be mailed to the bank at 613 S. Beeline Highway, Payson, AZ 85541.

Supporting this new scholarship fund is a fitting way to make sure Mrs. Gonzales' gift to our children is never silenced.

Banner day for blood drive

It was standing-room-only at the First Southern Baptist Church Monday, but the crowd wasn't waiting for any rock group, concert or movie -- they were there to give blood and, in some cases, have bone marrow testing done.

Payson's Spring Blood Drive was larger than any blood drive in town in the past year and a credit to the community, said Leslie Alexander, community relations representative for United Blood Services in the Rim country.

Nearly 200 Payson area residents gave 165 pints of blood. United Blood Services technicians also collected bone marrow screenings from 121 people, a service that was paid for by the Tonto Apache Tribe.

The community was also represented by high school students who donated blood at the school -- 36 pints of the life-saving fluid.

And Pine, with its first spring blood drive, collected 93 pints of blood.

It was a true community effort and one that should not and cannot go unnoticed.

Alexander said she hopes to have even more people out for the blood drive in July -- folks who don't donate or only occasionally donate.

As summer approaches and the accident rate in the area increases, lives may be saved because of the important effort the community as a whole made this past week.

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