Payson's Top Citizens

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Each year, the Payson Roundup honors what it deems to be the Rim country's top citizens. The Man and Woman of the Year are selected based on their characters, caring and service to the community. The Man and Woman of the Year are chosen from a list of nominees submitted by members of the public.

MAN OF THE YEAR

Practicing good medicine

Dexter DeWitt

Payson's Man of the year, Dexter DeWitt, gained public attention as the doctor of 4-year-old Ashley Allen, who began a battle with brain cancer in November 1999. The night Ashley was rushed to the Valley for emergency medical care, Dr. DeWitt accompanied the Payson girl's father and three brothers to the Valley, to help in any way he could, on his own time, at no charge, without thinking twice.

Unfortunately, Ashley's medical difficulties are ongoing but Dr. DeWitt is still there, going far and above what's now accepted as a doctor's call of duty. When the Allens' van broke down, Dr. DeWitt lent them a car so they could continue making their regular trips to the Valley and Tucson, where Ashley continues to undergo treatment.

That's just an example of the care and compassion he shows his patients, DeWitt's wife, Julie, said.

Old-fashioned country doctor

"His patients are the most important thing to him. I think he likes being in Payson because it gives him a feeling of being like an old-fashioned country doctor. He can get to know his patients and their families, and have a practice where people repeatedly come back. This intimate setting is something that really appealed to him, and it's not easy to find.

"When he drove down to the Valley with the Allens, he was on vacation. He had company that he hadn't seen in years. They were supposed to be out playing golf, here and in the Valley. But when the Allens called, he didn't give it a second thought. He went because those people needed help."

WOMAN OF THE YEAR

Here and helping for 50 years

Sue Owen

"For more than 50 years, Sue has served Payson through her work in community organizations, her church, her employment and her family," wrote the 10 people who nominated her. "She cheerfully offers her assistance whenever she can make a contribution whether it is to small children, the elderly, the infirm, or with a group of people working to serve others."

Community service

As a founding member of the Northern Gila County Genealogical Society, Inc., Owen has copied and catalogued records from the county courthouse, various cemeteries and other sources.

Currently in her third term as president of the genealogical society, Owen assists with the organization's fund-raising events, in part by making quilts which are sold for donations.

Owen was instrumental in establishing Payson's Assembly of God Church in the '50s, and was involved in all aspects of the ministry. She has been teaching Sunday school for more than 45 years, is past president of the Women's Ministries, and again donates her quilts to assist fund-raising efforts for missions. She also teaches a twice-a-week religion class for residents of Payson Care Center.

Owen spends one day per week taking a pair of elderly, nondriving friends grocery shopping and errand running.

Ask Sue Owen what it is that drives her to help others, and she doesn't need to mull over an answer.

"Perhaps the love of Jesus in my heart," said the Texas-born Owen, 76, who has lived in Payson since 1951. "He loves me, and the only way I can show my love for him is to help others."

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