Memorial services will be held at 11 am., Saturday April 17 at the Tonto Apache gym for native son Columbus Buford “Junior” Haught, 86, who died April 3, 2010 in Payson. A potluck will be held following the services.
Except for serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Junior spent most of his life in the Payson area.
Junior was born March 18, 1924 on his parent’s ranch, about 15 miles east of Payson. The ranch was located near where the turn off to Bear Flat leaves Highway 260. He was the son of Columbus Boy Haught and Flora Hunt Haught, pioneer settlers in the Rim Country. He grew up cowboying with his father and with other Haught families.
His elementary schooling was received mainly at the Green Valley School, although he did attend one summer at the Gordon Canyon School and a couple of years at the Payson School. When the Rock School Building in Payson (years later called Julia Randall Elementary School) was completed in 1939, Junior often told of packing his desk from the old school which was by the Presbyterian Church, to the Rock School. That summer (after his freshman year), he and other students helped local men install the gym floor.
He attended high school in Payson, where he excelled at basketball, playing in both the old dance hall on Payson’s Main Street and the Rock School Building gym. Right after Junior graduated from Payson High School in May of 1942, he went into the U.S. Navy where he played basketball.
Upon his return to the Payson area, Junior cowboyed for Leck Cline. In 1950, while riding Leck Cline’s Cowboy C horse, Junior won the calf roping at the Payson Rodeo. He said he tried riding bucking horses, but since he couldn’t master it, he gave it up.
Next, he worked as a carpenter. In the mid-1950s, he went to work for Owens Brothers Sawmill, and according to Ella Lee Owens, Charlie Brunson, and others who worked with him, Junior was the best timber faller in the country.
Ronnie McDaniel, who served as a Gila County Deputy Sheriff with Junior in the 1960s, said Junior was a “Jack of all Trades.” He was good at almost everything he tried to do. He was an excellent bass fisherman, fishing many hours with J.D. Miller and Clay Floyd at Roosevelt Lake. Junior was good at logging, roping, hunting, bowling, basketball, and he even learned to golf.
“He was a competitor,” said McDaniel, with a smile. “He competed to a point that his temper sometimes got the best of him.” Still smiling, McDaniel added he thought that Junior’s golf bag and clubs went to the bottom of the Payson dump after Junior could not quickly master the game.
“Junior was a good man,” McDaniel said. “He was a good law enforcement officer. He was always willing to help and he came to work early, always ready to go.”
“He always had a big heart for the kids,” McDaniel continued. “He used to take the Payson basketball team to away games at his own expense. I remember him taking us to Fredonia, Seligman, and other places that were quite a few miles away. But he wanted us to have the chance to play. He was a good guy.”
Pat Cline said she literally owes her life to Junior Haught. “When we were in grade school, I think Junior was 10, we all went swimming at the East Verde. I didn’t know how to swim and went under pretty quick. Junior saw me and pulled me out. I fought him like a drowning kid will do, but Junior pulled me out of that water and saved my life.”
Ella Lee Owens said Junior did a lot of volunteering at Kohl’s Ranch when ASU was opening up Camp Tontozona. He was always there to help others.
Charlie Brunson added that Junior was a good hand at anything he set out to do and said he was proud to have worked with him. This is the consensus of many.
Junior had always been artistic, but had not had time to try his hand at it until after he turned 70. Then he began painting pictures of wild animals. He painted well and left behind pictures for his family.
Junior Haught will be remembered as a good man — good at almost everything he tried to do — plus he fought for his country in World War II, and he was a good husband, good father, good grandfather, and a good friend. Payson will miss her native son.
Junior was preceded in death by his parents, Boy and Flora Haught; and his sister, Jonnie Haught Cline.
He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Pearlene McNeeley Haught; two daughters, Jeri Lynn Haught Chilson (John) and Tammie Haught Ames (Ronnie); a son, Ronald Frank Haught (Bobbi); two sisters, Norman Jean Haught Peace (Ezra) and June Haught Weigand (Levi); stepsons, Donald Lusk and Jerry Lusk; stepdaughter, Phyllis Lusk; grandchildren, Johnna Chilson Kile (Mark), Ty Chilson (Heather), Sundi Haught Neese (Terry), Frank Haught, Mandi Haught Bowman (Barry), Kyle Ames, Columbus Lee Ames, Jerrod Ames, David Lusk, Hanna Lusk Meyer (John), Carrie Lusk Laforge (David); great-grandchildren, Morgan Chilson, Jayme Chilson, Hayze Chilson, Jordyn Chilson, Willy John Kile, Rylinn Neese, Braden Neese, Hailey Haught, Delaynee Bowman, Shaylee Bowman, and Trista Bowman.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Hospice Compassus, 511 S. Mud Springs Road, Payson, AZ 85541.