Mountains A Magnet For Atteberry



Duane Atteberry, and his wife, Joan, became seasonal residents of the Rim country way back in 1970. In 1993 they took the leap to full-time citizenship.

Their seasonal home was up at Christopher Creek-See Canyon. But they retired to Payson.


Duane Atteberry

Asked why he and his wife chose to retire in Payson rather than up at Christopher Creek-See Canyon, he said they had always been active in their church and community and there was just more to be involved with in Payson.

The couple came to Arizona in 1960 from Kansas.

Traveling around for a private mortgage company, Atteberry had seen the little communities nestled in the pines. He and his wife decided they would like to have a cabin on the Rim to escape the Valley heat.

He saw an advertisement for an open house, and that Sunday they came up and bought the place on the spot.

"We had cabins at See Canyon and Christopher Creek," Atteberry said.

Then, in the late 1980s, as the Atteberrys were preparing for Duane's retirement, they bought a lot in a new Payson subdivision, Golden Frontier.

Atteberry retired from the mortgage division of Citibank, where he'd moved after 22 years with Applewhite Mortgage Company of Phoenix.

Between the time the Atteberrys bought the lot and moved to Payson in 1993, they designed the home they wanted to retire in, then had it built by Iverson Homes.

"It's great waking up every day and having that great view of the Rim," Atteberry bragged.

Although Atteberry said Payson has more in which to be involved, while in Christopher Creek-See Canyon, he participated in one of the area's most important community ventures. Atteberry was part of the residents' group that did one of the first homeowner association land exchanges with the U.S. Forest Service.

Since coming to Payson, he has been part of plenty of activities. Atteberry and his wife do a great deal with their church, the United Methodist Church of Payson. He is chairman of its building committee which is overseeing a half-million dollar project to add an educational and administrative wing to the 414 N. East St. sanctuary.

He serves on the boards of both the Tonto Community Concert Association and Northern Gila County Historical Society.

In the past, Atteberry has participated in the Payson Choral Society and served on the Rim Guidance Center's board.

Besides all the activities offered in Payson, Atteberry said he and his wife liked, "Payson small-townish feel and the friendliness of the people.

"You can go downtown and you're always seeing people you know."

"I also enjoy going out every day to the wellness center at Gila County Community College, taking advantage of the equipment and having the camaraderie," Atteberry said.

He said they also love the weather and the mountains, "Especially the mountains after the flat plains of Kansas."

Atteberry grew up on a farm outside the small town of Larnerd, Kan. He and his twin brother, Darrell, were Number 8 and 9 of his parents' 10 children.

He said his older sister, Velma, had a favorite story about the arrival of her twin brothers.

She had a very close friend, Ruth, over at the next farm. There were no phones at the time, no utilities at all, so the girls had worked out a signal system. When the new baby arrived at the Atteberry farm, Velma was to take a tea towel, climb up the windmill and tie up the towel like a signal flag.

Well, when the new baby turned out to be twins, Velma put two, brightly colored towels on the windmill and her friend Ruth ran all the way to see them.

Atteberry and his twin served in the Navy, on the same ship, the U.S.S. Valley Forge, doing the same duty in personnel, during the Korean War.

"Our time in the service was the time we were the closest. Our father make a big deal about an education, so Darrell dropped out of high school a couple of times. He was in a different class than me and had different friends. But then we joined the Navy at the same time and got together again," Atteberry said.

Atteberry was in the Navy from Jan. 1, 1951 until 1954. He had three tours of Korea, then was stationed in Florida while repairs were done on the ship in Norfolk, Va.

He wrote back to his friends and family bragging he was going to be spending the winter in Florida, but the Navy had different plans. He was shipped up to Iceland instead.

On one of his leaves home in Kansas he met Joan. She had been born and spent her early childhood on a farm not far from the Atteberrys', but when she started school, her family moved to town.

The couple has been married for 49 years and Atteberry said, "She's my best friend and helper."

They made the move to Arizona by choice. Their son was getting ready to start high school and Atteberry had been teaching business courses at a business college in Hutchison, Kan. They decided the summer before their boy started high school would be a good time to move, so they packed up and headed west.

So, as Arizona "newcomers" go, Atteberry is one of the long-timers, making the Grand Canyon State his home for almost 43 years.

He has seen a lot happen in the state in that time. Asked what the biggest changes have been, he said, "The explosion in population and the improvements to the roads, especially the one between here and Phoenix. People find it hard to believe how that road was."

Still active and involved at almost 73, Atteberry is likely to see a lot more changes, but he will take them in stride, just like all the others he's enjoyed in his life.


Name: Duane Atteberry

Occupation: retired banker

Employer: Citibank

Age: 72

Birthplace: Larnerd, Kan.

Family: Wife, Joan; one son; and one daughter, recently deceased

Personal motto: Be truthful and do the best you can with what's been handed to you.

Inspiration: Gerald Kennedy, the bishop of the United Methodist Church years ago -- for his thoughts, guidance and direction.

Greatest feat: Having a wonderful love affair with my wife, Joan, for 49 years.

Favorite hobby or leisure activity: Volunteer work and outdoor activities.

The three words that describe me best are friendly, truthful, accessible.

I don't want to brag, but I spent an entire winter in Iceland, unexpectedly courtesy of the Navy.

The person in history I'd most like to meet is Abraham Lincoln.

Luxury defined: Relaxing and working with friends.

Dream vacation spot: Canada, we took a train trip across the entire country, from Vancouver, it was beautiful.

Why Payson? It was the logical place to retire after having a vacation home here.

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