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Arizona Range News
Willcox , Arizona
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May 8, 2013     Arizona Range News
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May 8, 2013
 

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Willcox, Arizona ARIZONA RANGE NEWS 7 Wednesday, May 8, 2013 * B5 Lester Frank (Peck) Bethel City Mayor Lester Frank (Peck) Bethel was born March 15, 1908 in McAllister, Okla. He was the young- est child born into the family of Mark Ivan Bethel and Mary Etta Lambert. The oldest was his sister Rose and two brothers, Bert and George. About 1916, the .................................... family moved by covered wagon to New Mexico to establish a homestead. However the inability to save the necessary capital for required improve- ments of the Homestead Act, along with the reali- ties of farming and stock raising in the harsh arid land, eventually resulted in abandoning the home- stead. The family moved to Walsenberg, Colo. before deciding by the flip of a coin to head south to Bisbee, arriving there about 1924. Peck, 16 at the time, attempted to be hired in the underground copper mines; showing up daily over 30 straight days at 6 a.m. Each day, the boss selected workers. Finally the boss told him he was wasting his time, he was too young. But he was back the next morning. The boss asked him if his dad would give him a written release and permission to work in the mine. He said yes and set off walking to Tombstone, where his dad was working driving a team of mules building a road. With his written approval, he returned the next morning, starting his career as a hard rock miner, lasting until 1943. In 1928, he began court- ing Margaret Frances (Peggy) Clark. She was a local girl he picked up one day when she was walking up Tombstone Canyon in the rain. Two years later they eloped and were married March 16, 1929 in Lordsburg, N.M. "The neighbors said it wouldn't last, but 1955-1964 Honoree: Lester Frank (Peck) Bethel we showed them," Peggy said. They celebrated 54 years of marriage together. A son, Jerald Andrew was born Feb. 29, 1931, but died sudden- ly March 13, 1934 from anaphylactic shock. On Aug. 15, 1934, a second son, Howard Dwain, was born, and on May 29, 1938, they welcomed their third son, Floyd Ray. Peck suffered a serious accident when a swing broke at the swimming pool throwing him into a pile of rocks breaking his knee, a wrist and other bones hospitalizing him for several months. When he returned to work, the mines were on strike. For a period of time, Peck and his brother George moved their families to Fort Huachuca where Peck drove a mail bus from the Fort to Hereford and Fairbank. After the strike, both families moved back to Bisbee and continued working in the mines. On April 26, 1942, a fourth son was born named Lester Frank, Jr. (Les). Soon after, Bill Goar, who owned a garage in Bisbee and a "truck stop" in Will- cox, which he kept open 24 hours a day, offered Peck and his brother George a job in Willcox, operating the Red Arrow. It contained a gas station, small caf6 and about five cabins located on the edge of town on the northeast corner of Haskell Avenue and Fremont Street. Peck said people told him he was crazy to leave a good job at the mine and leave Bisbee for a town like Willcox. Nevertheless, in October 1943, he bor- rowed a pickup truck and moved both families to Willcox. About one year later, a fire hit the Red Arrow destroying one building and putting the generator, used to keep the station open at night, out of operation. In the spring of 1945, Bill Goar entered a lease-purchase agreement with a Tucson company for the Red Arrow, leaving Peck and George without jobs. George moved his family back to Bisbee, and Peck took a job as an Arizona State vehicle inspector at Ehrenberg near Blythe, Calif. His family stayed in Willcox living in the "Ratliff Sta- tion," which Peck had purchased some time before. When school was out, Peck bought a trailer house and moved the family to Blythe. The family all agreed that two summer months in Blythe, without air conditioning, but plenty of mosquitos and crickets, and five peo- ple cramped into a 20-foot trailer was very close to See BETHEL, B8 I Ellis Foote City Manager Ellis Foote was born Nov. 16, 1911, the seventh child of 10 to Charles and Hannah Foote near Quitchumpah Creek in Emery county, Utah. This was in the back country with little opportunity for schooling, so Ellis completed only through the 9th grade. He later attended BYU for part of a year, but on his own acquired the equivalent of a college education, with several extension courses in public management, two in photography and one in accounting. He studied piano and organ, at one time considering a career as a professional musician. On May 20, 1937, he married Norma Schreiner, sister of the renowned Tabernacle organist Alexander Sch- reiner, and a talented musician in her own right. They were engaged after a one-week courtship. Cherished memories of their children were listen- ing to their parents play music together - "Mother on the cello, and Daddy at the piano or organ." E1- lis's wanderlust took the family to California, Utah, and Washington, with their five children (four daughters and a son) be- ing born in these states. Ellis was a complex, self-motivated, and many- faceted man. He read seriously on such subjects as comparative religion, anthropology, philoso- phy and psychology. He began writing poetry and short stories and attempt- ed to make a living as a writer. He published po- etry widely in America in the 1940s. These included five books and several booklets. One of these books of poems is titled, By the Dry Lake's Edge, written while he was in Willcox.. He correspond- ed with the author, Vardis Fisher, and other well- known authors. In order to support his family in a more lucrative manner, he began a career in pub- lic service as city adminis- 1965-1974 Honoree: Ellis Foote trator in Moab, Utah. He moved to Hayden, Ariz., as its first city manager in 1958, to Needles, Califor- nia in 1965, and to Willcox in 1969. Ellis enjoyed many hobbies. These included painting, golf, amateur astronomy, aviation and photography. He owned a small plane for awhile, but sold it after moving to Willcox as the wind here caused too milch turbu- lence. He photographed many historic sites and interesting areas in and around Willcox, which are important references for the area, even today. A lot of them were pub- fished in the local paper to help promote the town. While city manager of Willcox from 1969 to 1976, Ellis was very supportive of building the Cochise Visitor's Cen- ter, which is run by the Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture, and is still an important asset to our community. He was one of many who fully believed in the story of Nino Cochise as the great Chief Cochise's grandson. Nino sat at the center just about every day signing autographs for tourists. Though his story has been disproved, he did bring considerable attention to Willcox for several years. Ellis served as president of the Arizona City Man- agers Association in 1964. He was honored as a fife member of International City Management As- sociation upon retirement, and was listed in "Who's Who" in city manage- ment. Ellis must have been extremely proud of his children, who have all excelled in life. Ariel Foote Barfield is a retired physicist. Adrien Foote Taylor is Publisher Emeritus, The Times- Independent, Moab, Utah. Andrea Foote, deceased, was a University Senior Research Scientist. Gavin Brant Foote (the son) is Director, Research Applications Laborato- ries, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colo. Brang- wyn Foote, the youngest daughter, is a retired Uni- versity Academic Admin- istrator, Denver, Colo. Ellis died in Boulder, Colo. on Sept. 8, 1991 at 79 years old. Though he was only in Willcox for seven years, he definitely left an impression. f We want to recognize our colorful, rich historlr while wq 00rking on the promise of a wonderful, growing future. The City of Willcox is workinc to m xove community infrastructure and 00ublic 00arks & walkwa0000s. We're continuinc to build on a ]reat )ast by improving the Library, Community Center, Skate Park, Streets, Food Pantry and Railroad Park. Cit00 o00'Willco.v, 101 S. Raih'oad Ave., Ste B, Willco.v, AZ 85643 520) 384-4271 ww00,00'.ciO'ojh'ilh'o.r.com I