Famous Last Words

Observations, insights and folly from the most notable Rim country quotables


Sometimes, all it takes is a single well-considered or spectacularly ill-considered sentence or two to tell an entire story.

Below you'll find the creme de la creme of 2000's best Rim country quotations, which tell the stories of scandal, tragedy, triumph, adventure, politics, law enforcement, the lack of law enforcement, wisdom and in some cases, the height of human folly.

"This is one of the strangest things I've seen in this town. I think this guy thought it was going to be easy pickings up here."

Payson Police Chief Gordon Gartner June 6, 2000 on Mikiyo Yonemura, the self-proclaimed entrepreneur who promised that his proposed restaurant deal to purchase Mario's Restaurant would bring $21 million to Payson, including $6.7 million to the Payson School District. When the Roundup reported that Yonemura had an outstanding California bench warrant for his 1999 arrest for possession and use of methamphetamine, he promptly disappeared from view.

"Japanese management style is based on solutions, not problems."

Mikiyo Yonemura (May 5, 2000).

"Here are millions of acres the government owns. They say it belongs to the people, but the people can't use it and will never see most of it. It's almost like the bad old days in England when kings owned all the land and shot poor people who took game so their families wouldn't starve."

Homeless Payson resident Tess Johnson Aug. 22, 2000), who with her son Freddie had lived undetected in the Tonto National Forest south of Payson for almost four years until the U.S. Forest Service found them and forced them out. Tess and Freddie were later given an open invitation to live on the Tonto Apache Reservation, where they now reside.

"I went over and there he was, kneeling on all fours in his front room. The house was full of smoke. I just grabbed him and drug him out to the front porch."

Twenty-one-year-old Joe Martin, who pulled neighbor John Ryan, 54, out of his burning home on West Frontier Street.

"Oh, once in a while we get a complainer. But we just take 'em out back and educate 'em."

Don Garvin, owner of the Rye Creek Bar and Restaurant, on how he handles hard-to-please customers (April 7, 2000).

"We just decided to give the money to the ... food bank and call it good; everybody's a hero."

Jeff Seivert (Dec. 12, 2000), co-owner of Fargo's, a new Payson restaurant now under construction, on the outcome of a name-the-restaurant contest in which the winner was supposed to receive $500.

Nearly 500 people entered 2,000 names in a local name-the-restaurant contest to try to win $500, but the winning inspiration was suggested by Don Brackin, the father of Seivert's partner, Doug Brackin. The prize money was donated to the Payson Lioness Community Christmas Food Drive.

"The developers are in charge."

Former Payson Mayor Vern Stiffler's (March 13, 2000) sole comment upon losing his re-election bid in the March primary, which gave the mayoral seat to Ray Schum and added Dick Wolfe and Bryan Siverson to the town council.

"(Amelia Earhart) brought me coffee many times from the restaurant at Roosevelt Field. She was completely in it for the publicity. As a pilot, she wasn't worth a (darn). She was very sloppy. That whole mission was a total disaster. First of all, she couldn't fly the airplane too well. She just proved that she was stupid. I blame her and her alone."

The late Captain Ernie Pretsch (Oct. 20, 2000), an aviation legend and longtime Payson resident who flew German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer on his historic 1955 journey to Moscow. He also flew Hollywood star Carole Lombard on the first leg of her fateful 1942 journey from Kansas City to Los Angeles, and was the very first chief pilot of Lufthansa Airlines.

"I ask God, 'Why did I get somebody so special that you need her back?' I think things like that. I'll always wonder what I ever did to deserve her in the first place. I still think she has special things to do in this world. She's just that kind of person. She's the brightest thing in my life. It's hard. It's so hard. But I accept whatever God has in store, because I trust him. I do. I trust him. And when I think of Ashley going to heaven, I get OK. I get peace."

Tracy Allen (Sept. 19, 2000), talking about her 5-year-old daughter Ashley, who underwent more than half a dozen grueling surgeries and treatments before losing her battle with brain cancer March 17, 2001.

"There is no story here."

Captain Bill Blank (Jan. 25, 2000) of the Gila County Sheriff's Department, when asked to confirm whether inmates' money had been stolen by Gila County Sheriff's Department employees.

At that time, the Roundup was attempting to unravel the mysteries surrounding $575, which was among the personal possessions of a Payson woman at the time of her arrest, but not returned for three months after her release. Although the results of that particular investigation have yet to be released despite a Freedom of Information Act request from the Roundup, four law and detention officers with the sheriff's department were eventually arrested, fired, disciplined and/or forced to resign their position for lying, stealing or both. They included detention officer William "Tom" Brunson, a son-in-law of Gila County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Byron Mills, who resigned while he was being investigated for stealing nearly $2,000 in bond money and prisoners' cash.

Blank's "no story" was named by the Roundup as the No. 1 news story of the year 2000.

"I have never seen so many allegations against one department in my entire political career."

Gila County District 1 Supervisor Ron Christensen (Feb. 11, 2000) on the same topic, after it had been determined that four law and detention officers had been arrested, fired, disciplined and/or forced to resign their position for lying, stealing from inmates or both.

"It's at the point now where when I get up to speak (before the Payson Town Council) I can see their eyes blank out. But you gotta keep trying. I am just so ticked off, because if you can't make contact with your government anyplace else, you should be able to do it at the local level. This is the place your voice should count, because you know this guy. He's not 2000 miles away from you in Washington. He's right here and you can get him on the phone. He understands your neighborhood and people. He ought to listen."

Payson senior citizen and political hell-raiser Ruby Finney (Sept. 22, 2000).

"I'm a true Sagittarius. My horoscope tells me I have my feet firmly planted in the clouds. That probably tells my whole story."

The late Hugo DiZinno (June 29, 2000), one of Payson's most well-known artists, who died of bone cancer in January. It was DiZinno who designed the town logo, the Church of the Holy Nativity and the Rim Museum. He also worked with fellow artist Craig Lynch on the memorial sculpture dedicated to firefighters who died fighting local wildfires.

"It was kind of like reliving the olden days, but I think I'm ready to have the modern conveniences back."

Kay Loftfield (March 7, 2000) after a snow storm knocked out much of Rim country's electricity.

"The kids today think that the way it is now is the way it's always been. They all want CDs, a big TV; in the old days, we played with rocks."

Tonto Apache Tribe member Polly Davis (Nov. 24, 2000), whose husband, Wally, was a founding father of both the reservation and its tribal council.

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