Bob Ware, newly named director of the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce, is a self-made man who says he likes to go out and get the job done.
"I like to think of myself as a Renaissance man," he said. "I have tried to get to know about a lot of things, not any of them well enough to be considered a professional, but I think it serves people well to know something about a lot of things."
Until he made a full-time commitment to the Rim country three years ago, Ware drove back and forth to the Valley every day in an old Oldsmobile without air conditioning to tend to his construction company.
"I was also going to school on Monday nights and writing papers and studying on the weekends."
Then one day somewhere around Oxbow Estates, he said he and wife Jackie looked at each other and said, "Why are we doing this?" He was hired as the executive director of the Mogollon Health Alliance and has never looked back.
Now with his new challenge as chamber director, his philosophy should serve him well.
"I was very happy doing what I was doing, but for years I've worked very hard to get involved in things that were progressive and positive for Payson," he said. "The chamber is just an excellent platform to continue doing that.
"Remember how President Jimmy Carter's mother joined the Peace Corps when she was in her 70s? She didn't have to, but she did it so she could do more for the world. I kind of feel the same way about the contribution I would like to make to Payson."
Born in California, Ware's family moved to Tucson when he was 18 months old, then to Phoenix when he was 10. He grew up in the Camelback/7th Avenue area and attended Arizona State University twice.
"The first time I was a bad student," he said. "I just enjoyed playing poker too much."
After a stint in the Navy, marriage and a child, Ware was ready to give college a second chance. This time he applied himself and made it through.
Like so many Rim country residents, Ware's years in the big city have made him especially appreciative of the lifestyle we enjoy. "This is just a great place to live" a place that still has what he calls an "edge of town."
"In places like South Dakota, you get to the edge of town and across the street is a corn field ...
"When you get to the edge of town in Payson, you're in the forest," he said.
But he's also realistic about what that means.
"Others will come here for the same reasons we did," he said. "We might as well work together to make this a wonderful community for all of us."