Small-Town Charm Lured Her Home



Growing up at Camp Shadow Rim -- the Rim country Girl Scout Camp -- Tomi Huddlestun was able to enjoy the best of mountain life.

"We had all kinds of opportunities to fish and roam the woods," Huddlestun said.


Tomi Huddlestun

Her father, Tom Dunny, worked at the camp, then became caretaker at Camp Tontozona. She was about 16 when he took the job at the Arizona State University football camp. It was after the Frank Kush days, but still some outstanding characters crossed her path at the camp. It is no wonder her family are Sun Devil fans.

"I remember Coach Larry Marmee and a football player named Jeff Simonau," Huddlestun said. "He was so massive -- just this really huge guy -- and could bench press an incredible amount of weight. His younger brother is with the Philadelphia Eagles now."

She attended Payson schools from the fourth through 10th grades. At 12 or 13 she met and became friends with the boy who eventually became her husband -- Brett Huddlestun.

She has two sons, and a daughter.

Huddlestun left town not long after her first son was born, moving to Phoenix. She decided to return to Payson and its small-town atmosphere though, and moved back in 1990.

Rim country residents who have been in the area awhile may know Huddlestun from her days with the Motor Vehicle Department or as manager of the Payless Shoe Source. Between 1996 and last year, she managed the office for the family business, Huddlestun Construction.

She joined the town staff as a temporary senior clerk early last year, helping out in the human resources department.

"Originally I had applied for the clerk's job at the parks and recreation department. My kids are really involved in the town's youth programs, and I thought the job would be fun. But Tracy (Snyder) needed some help here and asked if I'd be interested."

The temporary job became that of the full-time human resources technician July 31, 2003.

"It was a brand new position Tracy created as part of the department's reorganization," Huddlestun said.

The work involved recruiting employees for the town, processing the applications, administering insurance benefits, taking care of workmen's compensation claims and all other personnel issues.

Huddlestun and her boss work with about 145 full-time town employees. On average, they each have contact with about 15 of the employees everyday, either through walk-ins, on the phone or by e-mail.

"It's a great place to work and I feel very fortunate to have gotten this position," Huddlestun said. "I like everybody I work with and have a lot of fun learning new things."

In her off hours, she enjoys camping and hunting with her family and friends, but she is not too lucky when it comes to getting drawn for hunting tags.

"I've been putting in for about eight years and have never been drawn. I saw my son get his first elk though."

Something she would like to do in the future is take a trip to England with her husband and children.

"My husband's family has roots going all the way back to the time of the knights and they had a castle there. It's still standing, but someone else is living in it. I think it would be really nice to take the kids over there and learn about the ancestry."


Name: Tomi Huddlestun

Occupation: Human Resources Technician

Employer: Town of Payson

Age: 30 something

Birthplace: Phoenix, Ariz.

Family: Husband, Brett; children, James, Alesha, Justin; parents, Tom Dunny and his partner, Cassie; three brothers, one sister; many aunts, uncles and cousins.

Personal motto: If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten.

Inspiration: My parents, Shirley (deceased) and Tom Dunny.

Greatest feat: Giving birth to an 11-pound 6-ounce baby boy.

Favorite hobby or leisure activity: Camping and hunting with my family and friends.

Three words that describe me best: Independent, determined, honest.

I don't want to brag, but ... I have three truly wonderful children.

The person in history I'd most like to meet: Jesus.

Luxury defined: Being totally debt free.

Dream vacation spot: Anywhere I don't have to cook, clean or rush to get to.

Why Payson? My parents moved our family here in 1976. After my first child was born, I moved back to Phoenix for a short period, but soon realized life in the big city was not for me, so I returned. I missed the small-town atmosphere of Payson where most everyone knew everyone and people would smile and say hello whether they actually knew you or not.

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