Rim country residents have relied on Anna Mae Deming's weather forecasting for many years. The National Weather Service honored Deming Friday for more than 55 years of service, providing them with readings from her gauges and observations.
Meteorologist Brian Klimowski and Data Acquisition Program Manager Byron Peterson drove down from the National Weather Service office in Flagstaff to present the award to Deming.
"Anna Mae's observations have been invaluable to us," Klimowski said. "She is so consistent, we can set a watch by the times she calls us at 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m."
Deming's first reading for the National Weather Service was on June 1, 1948, but she was observing the skies long before that.
As a young girl she would join her cousin at the Tonto Natural Bridge when he took his weather readings.
"Every evening we would take readings," Deming said. "It was one of the oldest stations in Arizona."
Deming now has a trail at the Tonto Natural Bridge that is named after her -- the Anna Mae Trail.
She was hired by the Department of Commerce to begin taking official readings for the Payson area in 1948, earning a civil service rating degree in meteorology.
The National Weather Service has 11,600 volunteer observers in the nation.
"We have many volunteers around the country, but we have very, very few who have done it as consistently and as long as Anna Mae has," Peterson said. "The civic pride she takes and the volunteer spirit that she has is amazing to me."
"It's just a beautiful hobby," Deming said. "To watch those big, beautiful clouds build along the Rim. It's really wonderful."
Deming has never seen a tornado in Rim country, yet Deming has witnessed 77 inches of snow on the ground back in December of 1967.
"It snowed for 13 straight days," she said.
Deming has dedicated much of her yard to weather observation equipment -- rain gauges, thermometers, an anemometer to measure wind speed and direction and a ceiling light to measure clouds at night. Plus she checks visibility every day.
"She takes such care doing her observations," Peterson said, who has worked with Deming for the past 29 years.
One of the benefits of her work as a weather observer has been staying in touch with lots of people.
Name: Anna Mae Deming
Employer: Valley National Bank, 23 years
Age: Let's not put that in there
Birthplace: Star Valley
Family: Son, James G. Deming; daughter, Mary Deming Mullen; grandchildren and great-grandchildren
Personal motto: I don't have one.
Inspiration: Just enjoying life has been an inspiration.
Greatest feat: I just don't brag on myself at all.
Favorite hobby or leisure activity: Lots
Three words that describe me best: I can't answer that
I don't want to brag but ... (see above)
Person I'd most like to meet: No one, I love everybody.
Luxury defined: I'm satisfied with what I have.
Dream vacation spot: Tonto Natural Bridge State Park
Why Payson? My husband and I married here and wanted to live here and we did.