Tom Behl, of Payson, was honored earlier this summer by the Arizona Supreme Court for his volunteer work as a child advocate. He was the only volunteer to earn the recognition.
Behl was nominated for the court's annual "Protecting Children, Families and Communities" award by Gila County Superior Court Judge Peter Cahill.
"Behl's serious, earnest dedication reminds each of us at court of the importance of our work," said Cahill in making the nomination. "Protecting children, just like protecting the president of the U.S., demands constant, unrelenting effort and unwillingness to fail."
Behl is a retired Secret Service agent, having been assigned to vice presidents Hubert H. Humphrey and Spiro T. Agnew, and, briefly, President John F. Kennedy.
"Our justice system has its greatest and most lasting impact when we have community support and participation," said Chief Justice Ruth V. McGregor, "Community volunteer Tom Behl's work is a perfect example of the kind of partnership we need. His unpaid contributions have been remarkable and have made many positive changes in many children's lives. His efforts benefit us all."
Chief Justice McGregor presented the award.
"I was very honored to receive the award," Behl said, "I find the work to be very rewarding."
Behl's work with the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program has netted him several awards. He was named CASA of the Year for Gila County in 1998, 2000 and 2001, and was chosen as Payson's "Volunteer of the Year," during that same period. Additionally, Gila County honored him with "Tom Behl Day" in October 2002.
Behl has also worked as a volunteer in the Payson Area Habitat for Humanity program, served as a member of the advisory board for Payson's Community Action program, assists with the Gila County Community Action Program and is a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters.
He continues to work in the CASA program, serving as a guardian ad litum, doing much of the same work as a CASA. He represents children in court proceedings, investigates their circumstances and reports to the court what would be in the best interest of the young person.
Behl, and his wife, Barbara, have made Payson their home for 16 years.