Payson's Man of the Year was not selected for his politics or his opinions. He was selected for the astonishing amount of energy, time and caring he has invested in making his community a better place to live and work.
It's easy to forget that this whirlwind, outgoing Mayor Ray Schum, is 80 years old. And that shortly before winning his job in a landslide election two years ago, he underwent quadruple heart bypass surgery.
"What am I going to do? Sit in a La-Z-Boy chair and wait for the Grim Reaper to creep up on me?," Schum said after that experience. "Nope. He's gonna have to run me down."
As if the Grim Reaper could ever keep up with Ray Schum.
A 26-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Schum has been involved in Payson's community affairs almost since the day of his arrival here in 1989, after he retired as the personnel manager of the Deutsch Company, a major aerospace manufacturing firm in Southern California.
For six years, he conducted the Elks' community blood drive, and for two he worked at the St. Vincent de Paul food bank.
In 1996, he was elected to the first of three terms he would serve on the Payson Town Council; in 1998 he was appointed vice mayor; and in 1999, he moved up as high as one can go in town politics.
"In everything he's ever done since we've been together, Ray has given as much as he can give ... He gets a lot of satisfaction out of hoping and thinking that he's done some good for the town. He took being the mayor very seriously. He spent a lot of time at it, and he's going to miss it ... He really cares about Payson."
"My relationship with Ray goes back several years, to when he and I both worked on the Elk's Blood Drive. He was chairman at the time, and I saw all the leadership skills that he put into that campaign ... I was lucky to be vice-mayor under his leadership, and it gave me an opportunity to see the hours this man puts in. I think the public has no idea how much time he puts in to that job ... He's amazing. I don't know how he stands up under it all."
"Ray is just devoted to this community. That's his whole life. I think he's one of the best things that's happened to the people up here. Maybe they don't all realize it yet, but boy, he sure works hard to make things better. And even when he's not mayor, he'll continue to work just as hard and do just as much without all the recognition. That's the way he operates. Age certainly hasn't slowed him down. We're really going to miss him in that (mayor's) seat."
Newly elected council member
"I think that Ray changed the whole attitude and philosophy of the leadership of Payson. He is also such a wonderful Payson advocate. He believes strongly in the town, and does everything he can to promote it ... He's really worthy of being Payson's Man of the Year."