Longtime resident Stan Brown, Payson's official historian and former columnist for the Payson Roundup and The Rim Review, and his wife, Ruth, are moving to Prescott next week.
The Browns are moving to an assisted living facility that offers the freedom of retired living combined with graduated levels of care as needed. Their decision was hastened by a heart attack Brown, who is 76, suffered last year.
"We decided years ago that by the time we were 80 years old, we would establish ourselves in (such a facility)," Brown said. "For several years we searched Arizona and California for a retirement community that would meet our specifications and appeal to our aesthetic needs," he said. "We found that facility in Prescott, in the Las Fuentes Resort Village, and we will be moving there June 1."
The Browns' association with the Rim country dates to 1963, when they built a cabin on the upper waters of the East Verde River. A Methodist minister for 45 years, Brown had majored in history in college, and it wasn't long before that early interest resurfaced.
"It happened to be property that had been settled by the pioneer Belluzzi family in 1874," he said. "Upstream was the old railroad tunnel, the Devin Trail, the ruins of Fred Haught's first cabin, and General George Crook's camp along his military road. As early as the 70s and 80s, I was gathering oral histories from old-timers and researching the local lore."
Brown retired in 1991 and moved to the Rim country full time.
"After I retired, I was able to devote full time to my hobby -- local history," he said.
He became increasingly involved in the Northern Gila County Historical Society.
"I recognized that one of the big things we needed here was an archive of local history, because all of the ranchers and the local pioneer families were sending all their stuff out of their attics down to Tempe to the Hayden Library and down to the Arizona Historical Society in Tucson," he said.
"We needed a repository here where people could put their photos and documents and those kinds of things, so I started that."
Brown also began writing a regional history column in The Backbone. When that publication ceased operation, Brown's column began appearing in a brand new weekly -- The Rim Review. Later, a second column was published in the Roundup.
As he has done so often, Brown emphasized the importance of history.
"It's the old story that we talk about but never seem to learn, and that is that we learn from our mistakes and we learn from our history," he said. "We are pretty well doomed to repeat our mistakes if we don't know the past, so we do need to know our history. We also need to know our history to give us a sense of rootage and a sense of heritage -- where we've come from, a sense of place, so we can draw inspiration from the people who have gone before us and build on their achievements."
Brown said he looks forward to pursuing the history of his new home.
"I'm eager for that, for new adventures and new explorations, discovering new stories and new places," he said. "People are more aware of history over there than they are here, and I'm looking forward to fellowshipping with the historians over there."
Brown also intends to catch up on his writing "at his own leisure without the deadlines."
And now that he's moving to Prescott, Brown promises to stand up for Payson in its rivalry with that town for rights to the title, "World's Oldest (Continuous) Rodeo."
"I certainly will not let it go by without being a witness to that," he said.