Pioneer Heritage Suffers Loss Of Anchoring Pillar

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The pioneer heritage of the Tonto Basin and Rim Country is without one of its anchoring pillars.

Alma Lorraine Cline, born in Florence, Ariz. and a resident of Gila County since 1940, died Aug. 18, 2008 at her home in Tonto Basin.

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Alma Lorraine Cline

Known as Lorraine, Alma Lorraine Cline, 72, was born in Florence, Ariz., Nov. 12, 1935 to Charlie and Abbie Haines. She was their ninth child and was delivered by a midwife and her oldest sister, Dolores. Her parents rented a little house by the railroad tracks next to the Gila River so they could send the older siblings to high school. At the time, her father had an angora goat ranch near Hayden and there was only an elementary school there. So, like all rural families, they had to move to town.

When she was 5 years old, they moved to Globe where her father had found a job with the railroad company working at Inspiration Mine. She went to Noftsger Hill School and Globe High.

She met her future husband, Dale Cline, while attending Globe High. She new she had met the cowboy of her dreams. She was 16 and he was 18 when they married at the Methodist Church Parsonage in Globe with only her sister Francie and brother-in-law Rip Tomerlin standing up with them. It was a very small ceremony, but it goes to show you don't need all the trimmings to make it last. They were married 56 years in June.

After the Clines married, they moved to the 7H ranch on the east side of Tonto Creek where they lived for about a year, and then moved to Globe for a short time, where Dale worked for the city. It was no place for a cowboy, so he bought the old family ranch from his brothers George and Leck in Tonto Basin. The family had lived there since 1923.

The old rock house set at the junction of Ash Creek and Tonto Creek and was built after the original house had burned. They lived there from 1953 until 1981 and raised three children -- Lonny, Teri and Brent.

Remembering her mother, Teri Cline wrote, "Our mom always had room for one more at the table and it seemed we never ate a meal without someone else there. People were always getting stuck in the creek or breaking down on the long dirt road from the dam. She always had plenty in the store room or freezer."

In 1981 the couple built a new home on the east side of Tonto Creek on property known as the Old Lann Homestead.

"Mom loved her home, and didn't mind living on that side of the creek because she was always busy in the house or helping our dad with the ranch," Teri Cline wrote.

"When the creek would flood, she would be so glad she had stored a pantry full of food and a freezer full of meat. She and Dad would give it to someone who needed it instead of saving it for themselves; that's how they lived."

Alma was Dale's right hand, whether gathering cattle, branding, cooking for the crew or keeping the tea jug full, she was always helping him. She loved her four-wheeler and would go out and check waters, salt grounds, gates, fences and, of course, the cattle. She took care of them like she did her children and worried right along with her husband about the price of cattle and the lack of rain.

Come time to ship the yearlings, she would plan ahead and start cooking days ahead so there would be plenty of food for all the cowboys. And she learned from the best on how to cook for a crew. Roxie Cline, Dot Cline and Aunt Jonnie Cline all handed down their experience to her and Arlene Cline.

"These are the memories we will all cherish, the times at the corrals like a big family reunion," wrote Teri Cline.

She was involved in the community and always lending a hand for benefits, raffles, bake sales and the loss of a loved one. She always had time to listen to everyone and had a great memory for history.

She went on a lot of four-wheeler trips with her friends, which they enjoyed because she was like a walking history book and knew the country almost as well as her husband. If she wasn't sure of something about the past, she would ride her quad up to Greenback to E.C. Conway's because she knew he would know the answer.

When she found out she wasn't going to beat her illness, she started getting things in order. She didn't want to leave us in a "mess" she said. She never left a mess anywhere in her whole life. She wanted to know everything was going to be taken care of, especially her husband.

The community, her family and her friends are invited to join in a celebration of Lorraine Cline's life at the Tonto Basin School at 10 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 30. There will be a potluck at noon and lots of time to reminisce.

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