Stephen Lester Gunzel
Stephen Lester Gunzel, age 60, a Payson resident from 1985 to 1999, died Jan. 2, 2012 at his home in Sierra Vista, Ariz., after “beating the odds” by living two-and-one-half years with brain cancer.
He was a resident of Sierra Vista, Ariz. for 12 years, moving there in 1999 to be a U.S. Forest Service District Ranger after serving as district ranger in Payson, Ariz. for 14 years.
Mr. Gunzel was born May 13, 1951 in Missoula, Mont. He lived his first 13 years in Yellowstone National Park. He attended Palo Verde High School in Tucson where he and Jill met in their freshman year, 45 years ago.
After attending the University of Arizona for five years and getting a bachelor’s of science degree in agriculture, he and Jill married in 1974 and moved to Lemmon Rock Lookout.
He worked for the U.S. Forest Service for 33 years, with time spent on the Catalina District (Tucson, Ariz.), Chevelon District (Winslow Ariz.), Mt. Taylor District (Grants, N.M.), the regional office in Albuquerque, N.M., Payson District (Payson, Ariz.) and Sierra Vista District (Sierra Vista, Ariz.).
His hobbies, interests and memberships included: hunting, knife making, fishing, square dancing, riding his Harley, Rotary Clubs of Payson and Sierra Vista.
His greatest joys included keeping the grandchildren supplied with gummy worms and being the official “sleeping platform” for the six grandbabies.
Mr. Gunzel is survived by his wife of 37 years, Jill; his parents, Louis and Carolyn Gunzel; children, Jon Gunzel and wife Trina and Julie Graff and husband Jeremy; grandchildren, Wyatt and Abbigail Gunzel and Leslie, Adam, Bailey and Warren Graff; and siblings, Donna Calvert and Jeanette Thompson.
A celebration of life will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 7 at the Sierra Vista Lutheran Church, 101 N. Lenzner, Sierra Vista, Ariz.
Donations in Mr. Gunzel’s name may be made to Musella Foundation for Brain Tumor Research (http://www.virtualtrial.com) or Caringbridge (http://www .caringbridge.org)