Payson Pioneer, Dorothy Pyle Dies

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Dorothy Pyle

Dorothy Eunice Lovelady Pyle, 89, born July 28, 1920 on the Hammond Ranch in Payson, died March 2, 2010 in Surprise, Ariz. Funeral services will be held for her at 11 a.m., Saturday March 6 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Payson. Interment will follow immediately at the Payson Pioneer Cemetery.

Mrs. Pyle has, for at least the last 10 years, been the oldest person born in Payson that was still living.

Her ancestry stretches back through four generations of Gila County pioneers to her great-great-grandparents and the first permanent settlers in the area, David and Josephine Harer, who settled in the Greenback Valley in 1872. Her great-great-grandmother, Josephine Harer, would sit on the porch at the Hammond Ranch and rock Dorothy. She was fond of telling folks, “This is five generations rocking here, in this chair.”

The three generations after Josephine Harer included Dorothy’s great-grandmother, Sarah Harer Packard (wife of Florence), her grandmother, Josie Packard Russell (wife of Fred), and her mother, Belle Russell, who married Walter Lovelady.

Walter and Belle Lovelady lived at the Hammond Ranch and raised livestock and a variety of crops.

Due to Walter’s health, the Loveladys moved to “Texas Flat” (now Oak Street). He had breathed the German’s poison gas in World War I and developed tuberculosis. He could no longer do ranch work, so he worked at Boardman’s Store when his health permitted. A brother Lawrence (Shove) Lovelady was born in 1926 in Payson. The Lovelady children attended school in Payson, attending classes taught by Julia Randall and Ethel Owens.

Shove died when a plane he was flying crashed over Payson in 1962.

When she turned 9, her father’s health was better and he was elected Payson’s constable. His district took in not only Payson and the Rim Country, but also Tonto Basin where her maternal grandparents lived.

She attended the seventh- and eighth-grades in Tonto Basin at the old Packard School and returned to Payson to finish high school. She worked and went to beauty school in Phoenix for two years, and then married Eugene F. (Gene) Pyle in January 1942.

Her husband was drafted into the Army during his last semester at Arizona State College and stationed at Williams Field, near Mesa, during the war where Mrs. Pyle went to work with the telephone office. They lived in Mesa during most of the war years and their son, Eugene Jr. (Jinx) was born there in December 1944.

At the end of the war, the couple, with their son Jinx, moved to the Bonita Creek Ranch where they lived for three years. From there, they moved to the R Bar C Ranch, where Mrs. Pyle learned what it was like to be married to a cowboy, a rancher, and a lion hunter. While her husband and son were hunting lion or gathering cattle, Mrs. Pyle cooked, canned, sewed, and did whatever needed done.

The family ran the R Bar C Ranch for 10 years, leaving there in 1961 and buying into the Cross V and Myrtle Ranches in partnership with Gene’s brother, Malcolm Pyle. After a few years, the ranches were divided and Mrs. Pyle and her family went to live on the Myrtle Ranch.

When the Vietnam War came along and her son was called to do his tour of duty, Mrs. Pyle saddled a horse and rode with her husband through the roundups and the brandings. She recalled the heat, and the dust kicked up by the cattle as they wound their way single file along the high and narrow stretches of the Myrtle Trail. “Sometimes the leaders would stop, and one of us would have to ride out of the trail and around the cattle in back. We would cut into the middle of the herd and urge the leaders on up the trail so that those cattle behind could follow. “That old trail spiraled upwards in a series of switchbacks and the cattle above often loosened boulders from their nest, sending them bounding down the mountainside. Sometimes they would hit other rocks and start them moving, too. This always seemed to happen in places where I couldn’t leave the trail because my outside stirrup was swinging over a hundred-foot bluff while my inside stirrup was brushing against a wall of rock. Often there would be cattle both behind and in front of me and there was very little room to maneuver. We never got hurt, but there were some scary times. I was sure glad when Jinx came back from the war to help his dad.

“We had to move the cattle once during the summer each year. This was always around the first of August when the hail and lightning storms were at their zenith. If we were caught out in a bad hailstorm, we had to get under a tree, or be pelted by the hailstones. I have always heard that you shouldn’t get under a tree, or be caught out in the open during a lightning storm. The person who wrote that was never caught in one of those summer storms on the Mountain. There is no place else. If you are not under a tree, you are out in the open.”

Many happy years were spent at the Myrtle Ranch, but there was always the ever-increasing, ever-present danger of a devastating forest fire. After a short, half-hearted stint at dude ranching, the Pyle family moved to Oregon and took Mrs. Pyle’s mother, Belle, to live with them. Her father died in 1966 while Jinx was in the service. In Oregon, the Pyles founded and ran the Pantera Ranch with Texas Longhorn cattle. It was on this ranch that Mrs. Pyle’s husband died of cancer in 1988 with Jinx and Dorothy at his side.

Mrs. Pyle continued to help her son, ranching in Oregon for nine more years. In 1997 Mrs. Pyle’s mother died in Oregon at home on the ranch and with Dorothy caring for her. The Oregon years were good years, and even though Dorothy lost her mother and husband there, she had many fond memories of the cattle, the ranch and her friends in Oregon.

In 1997 Mrs. Pyle and her son sold their Oregon ranching interests and moved to the Canyon Creek Ranch in Carton County, N.M., where they continued the family tradition of ranching until the fall of 2003. She wanted no part of the city, preferring life on the ranch, but when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service turned their Mexican Gray Wolves loose on the ranchers in Eastern Arizona and Western New Mexico, the time had come to head for town.

For the next several years Mrs. Pyle lived in Payson with her son and daughter-in-law, Jinx and Jayne Pyle. In her last months, she lived near her step-grandson and his wife, Shawn and Summer Haught, in Surprise, Ariz. where the best medical care was available.

Mrs. Pyle is survived by her son and daughter-in-law, Jinx and Jayne Pyle; her step-grandson and wife, Shawn and Summer Haught; and six step-great-grandchildren who loved her and helped care for her, Hunter, Hannah and Lilee Haught and Matthew, Garrett and Rylee Evans. Mrs. Pyle is also survived by her sister-in-law, Myrtle Warter, 94, of Payson and many nephews, nieces and cousins.

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