Cline's Legacy Foundation Of Payson's Water System

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Since Raymond Cline passed away on Sept. 28, the stories about his life have been flowing. Everyone has a memory of Raymond.

No matter what angle the story, they all have the same conclusion -- Raymond was a rare, quiet gentleman.

A lot of the stories surprise even those who knew him, because Raymond Cline did not brag.

And so, in his passing, we will take a moment to brag for him.

Before Raymond Cline was a rancher in Star Valley, he was a water man.

He drilled his first well when he was 14 years old with his brother, Frances, who was 16.

After that, he spent the winters going to school in Phoenix and his summers in Young, drilling wells.

"I think they got into well drilling because there was money in it," said his daughter, Tommie Cline-Martin. "To get through the Depression they did anything they could. It was a big family and everyone had to do something. People were different then and that's how we were raised. You had to make a hand for the family.

"Well drilling was something that people needed."

In 1945, after high school and a tour in the Navy, Cline returned to the area and continued his well drilling business with Frances.

"Talk to most of the old people around here and they'll tell you he drilled their well," Martin said.

After marrying Pat in 1947, Raymond Cline moved to Payson where he was the first well driller in town.

Payson was beginning to grow, and in 1952, Cline and his wife started the Payson Water Company, the community's first water utility. In 1953, the Arizona Corporation Commission granted them a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity, giving them the sole right to provide water to Payson and Star Valley.

In the years that followed, Raymond laid the pipe that would become the foundation of Payson's water system.

"Raymond Cline started the public water system in this area," said Payson Public Works Director Buzz Walker. "For that day and that time, what he did was amazing."

"Dad knew this town was going to grow," Martin said. "He always wanted to have bigger pipe going in than he needed."

The pipeline was put in by Raymond with the help of his children, none much older than 10.

"We all took turns running the trencher as kids and helping lay pipe," Martin said.

Cline operated the Payson Water Company until the early '60s when he sold to United Utilities, and bought the ranch in Star Valley.

"He wanted to ranch. He wanted us to grow up on a ranch," Martin said. "And he didn't like the headaches and the hoops he had to jump through.

"He bought the ranch because the cows never talked back and the customers were starting to."

Buzz Walker is still amazed by the infrastructure one man was able to undertake, work usually done by a government.

"What he put in with very little assistance, all but 2,000 feet of it is still in service today," Walker said. "He used high quality materials and he had the discipline to do it right.

"Raymond was the genesis of what we have today, and that's pretty awesome to me."

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