The Rim Country is blessed with good-hearted, generous residents who make a difference in many lives. A number of these men and women were recognized for their efforts and received nominations to be named Man and Woman of the Year.
Criteria included contributions to the community, personal integrity, service to others and how they are a good role model.
Man and Woman of the Year are Barbara Brenke and Lew Levenson, who are individually profiled in this special publication.
The other nominees contribute a tremendous amount of time, energy and talent to our community and are due proper tribute.
Other nominees for Man and Woman of the Year were: Judy Baker, Lisa Boyle, Teresa Chernov, Richard Croy, Loretta Haggard, Ed Heckerson, Ed Jones, Lud Kaftan, Butch Klein, Terry Nelson and Marilyn Wolfe.
Judy Baker was nominated by Bertha Riggs, Sue Myers, Bobette Sylvester and Sandee Koon.
"I nominate Judy Baker of the Mogollon Health Alliance for her dedication to the wellness and health or our community with fund-raising and undying energy for all," writes Riggs.
Myers, Sylvester and Koon submitted a joint nomination.
"Judy Baker makes a huge contribution to the lives of all of us in the Payson region through her work with the Mogollon Health Alliance; Mogollon Sporting Association; Rim Country Hospice; Gracie Haught Memorial Foundation; Gila Foundation for Higher Education; Gila County Trails Association; University of Arizona College of Agriculture Advisory Board; Payson Biotech Team; Payson Historical Society; Eastern Arizona Area Health Education Center; and she brought the National Rural Health Conference to Payson last summer.
"She is a busy woman, but always she exemplifies the small town, friendly Payson way. She calls you by name, asks about your family, and does whatever she can to solve your problem. She is always positive."
Lisa Boyle received nominations from Faye James and Susan Campbell.
"Lisa Boyle is a very active member of the Payson Humane Society because she wants to help or lead for change to improve the way things are done at the shelter," writes James. "This has involved countless hours of time and out of pocket money to protect and save dogs and cats, but this has been and continues to be her mission.
"Lisa has never been afraid to go to the door of a house where she sees a dog tied up out in the bad weather. She talks to the owners and offers them a cozy dog house ... Lisa buys those herself to use in these types of situations.
"Lisa will also involve the police if the situation is particularly heinous. She has also persuaded owners to give up the dog and she finds a good home for it. She also finds good homes for cats.
"In addition to the other projects Lisa started for the shelter, her latest is founding the Payson Friends of Ferals, an organization to help lost, homeless or feral cats."
Campbell cited much of the same outstanding community spirit in her nomination letter for Boyle.
"I am so impressed with the way Lisa responds to challenges, questions and concerns. She is a firm voice that will be heard, yet she is tactful and thoughtful as well. ... Whatever victories Payson Humane Society has had are largely due to Lisa's efforts in leadership positions behind the scenes," Campbell writes.
Rick Croy was nominated by Conrad and Bev Okerwall for his efforts in the development of low-income housing and the help he provides residents through his work with the Gila County Community Action Program.
Teresa Chernov was nominated by her husband, Aaron.
"Teresa is a great wife and mom," he writes. "She is very active in Girl Scouts as a leader and positive role model for young girls. She is also a wonderful helper at Julia Randall Elementary for Mrs. Ryden's second-grade class. Her integrity is beyond reproach. She holds down a job at Bee Well Chiropractic and she still finds time to put up with me. We're still head-over-heels in love with each other."
Loretta Haggard's name was submitted for consideration by Tamera Bruce.
"Loretta Haggard is the embodiment of love," writes Bruce. "She has made a positive difference in the lives of others and helped me to be a better person. There are many examples of her selflessness in true charity. She has served our area through St. Mary's Food Care for a dozen years with the support of her family
"Loretta has been my benefactress many times, twice helping me set up house by providing possessions and finances. Not unlike a mom or a best friend, she has been a confidant to matters on my mind or close to my heart. I've been able to trust this woman with everything I've ever had and lost."
Ed Heckerson is nominated by Ray Ruetz, who writes, "Ed has lived in Payson less than two years, but in that time he has made a more noteworthy impact on our community than most of us will in a lifetime.
"Ed not only delivers Meals on Wheels five days a week, but he takes an active interest in each of the 40-plus ‘customers' on his route. After hours, he does light maintenance and repair work for them at his own expense. From securing a lift chair to finding an affordable painter or tree trimmer, Ed goes out of his way to be helpful. He pays special attention to the pets, calling them by name and producing treats.
"Ed regularly checks on his own neighbors as well, and is equally attentive to their needs. On weekends, Thanksgiving and Christmas he and his wife, Maggie, prepare and deliver meals to many needy Payson residents."
Ed Jones, owner of The Yardworks lawn maintenance and landscaping business, is nominated by Julene ...
"Ed has been working in the Payson and surrounding area for 23 years. He is dedicated to his work and family.
"Ed has helped me in emergencies, such as when there was a leak in my barn, the sprinkling system going off for no reason, the freezer not working, getting rid of rats from under my home and much more.
"He is a very caring man and someone you can always count on."
Lud Kaftan and Butch Klein
Lud Kaftan and Butch Klein, founders of the Payson Supply Line, were nominated by Sunny Clark. The two are committed to raising funds to send much-needed items to the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The two men, both veterans, started the project in early 2005 with the goal of sending one box a week to the troops. They asked family members of friends of military personnel to provide names and addresses.
By the end of 2005, the group had sent more than 300 boxes to soldiers. Included in the boxes are such things as batteries, socks, baby wipes, Chapstick, international telephone cards, disposable cameras, powdered drink mixes, canned meats and more.
"We want to keep these kids comfortable and alert," Kaftan explained when the project was first launched. "It's not something that is here today and gone tomorrow. This works. I was in Vietnam and it worked for us. It worked for the first Iraq war."
The project's success surpassed all their expectations and drew support from throughout the Rim Country and elsewhere.
Klein's son, a youth minister in the Valley, involved his charges, and as a result the program has benefited from fund-raising activities in both Payson and the Phoenix area.
Rim Country children also became involved, writing letters to the military men and women, that are included in the boxes.
The recipients participated as well. As their tours ended they wrote to Klein and Kaftan to ask them to send boxes to their replacements.
Terry Nelson was nominated by March Clark, who writes, "Terry has worked for the Payson Community Kids program for over four years as a volunteer. She is vice president and helps every Sunday to take the kids to church and feed them lunch.
"She also provides classes, does paperwork, shops and cooks and really shows the kids so much love. She really puts her heart into our program. The program would not be what it is today without her and all her hard work."
Former Woman of the Year Marilyn Wolfe was again nominated this year. Suzanne Jones made the nomination, writing, "Marilyn is a class act for any woman to follow. ... She takes responsibility for tough jobs with congeniality and competence. ... She also has strong leadership ability and can delegate well. Her approach to her committee members was always polite, warm, clearly stated and you want to assist her. She sends ‘thank-you' notes to show her appreciation. This is a very classy lady. ... She certainly can juggle many balls at once. ... She seems to thrive on challenges."