Announcements‎ > ‎

President's report and next annual meeting 2013

posted Jan 3, 2015, 10:21 PM by Patrick M Walters   [ updated Jan 3, 2015, 10:22 PM ]
President report of 2011 – 2012 Ajo Historical Society March 13, 2012

This month is the 37th anniversary of the founding of the Ajo Historical Society. We took possession of our site St. Catherine’s Indian Mission in 1976.

I ask you to reflect with me for a moment about the passing of some of our members: Alice Kendall who was conscientious about paying her dues and contributed so much to the Ajo Federated Church; Jack Petersen who volunteered as a docent after retiring from the Ajo Public schools; his friend and neighbor Jack Steel who had been a member since 1978; and Austin Schillinger who joined in 2008 and was quickly put to work inside and out; Coy Yarberry, a charter member, passed away in March. His wife Barbara, a former docent, remains actively interested in the doings of the Ajo Museum.

Several others who were members in spirit if not in fact were Jim Thomas, Gayle Richardson, and Lorraine Young. Jim Thomas and his family donated many of the dramatic photos of his work that are in this room. Likewise Gayle Richardson, not once but twice donated significant items reflecting his craftsmanship in silver and rock cutting. Lorraine Young donated her gifts of music at the museum open house events. Lorraine was responsible for bringing the Ajo Museum to the attention of her brother-in-law, Mr. Woodward, who donated the prehistoric pottery and other items in the entrance room.

The Ajo Museum is not a one person show. It is a collective effort of many who lend a hand.

Last year Tom Reese tiled the bathroom floor and then with his brother in law Ted worked on some plumbing. Tom and his buddy Roger Hearst have donated a goodly number of lodge pole pine walking sticks for several years to the Ajo Museum.

Bill Rigdon continued to bring his vintage automobiles as his “outside docent” project. Bill gave a professional talk and shared his enthusiasm for his second love.

Andy Kearney literally raised the flagpole after it had been lowered to remove a wind torn flag. The Woodmen of the World kindly gave the museum a replacement flag.

Jose’ Castillo helped patch and paint the leaks in the roof in late March. In May he brought in items from the court house including the cabinet that now houses Gayle Richardson’s jewelry donation.

Two new signs leading towards the Ajo Museum appeared in part due to the efforts of Carol Peek and Alan Dunstan of the Ajo Chamber of Commerce. They have hopes that more signs will appear in the Ajo area promoting our tourist attractions.

Anna Parrish not only did the yard sale and open house earlier in 2011 but also cleaned and painted the bathroom floor off of the kitchen in May.

Joe and Donna Messersmith have anchored Thursday for a number of years. During the summer they dropped in to give the plants some help. This season Donna holds down the fort at Coyote Howls West allowing Joe to continue working for the Ajo Museum.

On October 15th after an informal board meeting a number of volunteers came to help put the museum in order after the summer shutdown.

Mike Mason took on the task of raising and straightening the tagalong wagon in the parking lot.

In November the Ajo Garden Club returned to do their self appointed project of dong an outside cleanup. Organ Pipe’s Vivian Sartori located the place for the club to install a small wildlife pool. Later that month the 5K Turkey Trot run used the Ajo Museum as its water stop and turn around point. Several of us participated in various library talks this year including Dr James Mitchell. Jim’s talks on coyotes, bats and other animals are awaited with eagerness by our winter visitors at the library. He gives freely of his time and knowledge to the museum visitors twice a week and once more at the mine overlook.

Patrick Walters recently donated his time, talents, and startup costs in creating a website for the Ajo
Museum. It may be found on the internet under

Last season the volunteer guides kept the Museum open daily through Memorial Day and eleven days in
the first weeks of June. The Museum was cleaned up on October 15th and opened for the Alumni weekend on October 22nd. It has been open daily except October 24th, Nov 2nd, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas. In all last season over 2300 visitors signed the guest register. As of Friday March 9th we have had 1738 visitors sign in since opening in October. Last year at this time we had 1578 visitors, so we are about 10 % ahead in attendance. We still have not surpassed our attendance of two years ago when we had over 1900 visitors by the same date, but we are doing significantly better in our numbers. Donations from our guests run about $1.50 per person.

Since we last met in March, 2011 Museum docents have been Peggy Cole (2), Jose’ Castillo (145), Andy Kearney (61), Margaret Lyster (1), Mike Mason (28), Joe Messersmith (24) , Donna Messersmith (5), Jim Mitchell (16), Anna Parrish (10), Tom Reese (18), Bill Rigdon (5) and myself (209).

Margaret Lyster and Peggy Cole both worked as docents until their health failed. Margaret returned to Canada and Peggy is now in Maryland at her daughter’s.

Dee Hightower has kept our bills paid, and accounts straight. Each June she presents an audit to the board about our finances. Paulette Walters keeps the membership informed and saves us money by sending out minutes by email. Bob Hightower has been a faithful board member, a backup security man, and an advisor to the curator. Their help and the help of others whom I may have neglected to name enable the Ajo Historical Society to strive towards its goals. I thank the guides and all others who allow the Ajo Museum to remain open for eight months of the year.

G Louie Walters, President