After probably the most hectic summer of her career, Brenda Straw is hanging up her uniform for good this week.
"The fire season last year was busy and hectic," the customer service representative at the Payson Ranger Station said. "I worked both the Rodeo-Chediski and Pack Rat Fires as public information officer."
Straw is retiring today after a career that included nearly five years with the U.S. Forest Service and 12 years with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Prior to her government career, Straw was a nurse in the Valley for many years."I did customer service at Roosevelt Dam. I was one of those ‘dam people,'" she said with a laugh.
Straw's immediate supervisor, Addye Thole, described her as energetic, pointing out that she served on a variety of committees and made countless interpretive presentations in the Payson, Pine and Roosevelt elementary schools.
"She is very active, very much a people person," Thole said.
Straw's fellow employees at the ranger station honored her at a luncheon Thursday at Mario's. She was presented a plaque and a gift.
One of the things Straw said she will miss most is the general public, even though there were often language barriers and "some of their questions are awfully stupid."
The most frequently asked question: "Where can I go camping?" But people also expected her to know such things as how many changes of clothes they should bring for their children.
Born in DeKalb, Ill., Straw has two children and six grandchildren. She says she plans to stay active.
"I live down in Tonto Basin, and there are things I've wanted to do around the house for a long time," she said. "I'm too much of a people person not to find plenty of things to do. I just haven't figured out what they all are yet."