Thursday, February 25, 2010

A giant's passing

I'm on my way back to Arizona to attend the Memorial Service of my beloved uncle, Tom Pendley.

Many thanks to my cousin (Tom's daughter), Kathy Shaw, for sharing this obituary of her dad:

Arizona native, Thomas Tilman Pendley II, 87, of Phoenix died February 23, 2010.

Mr. Pendley was born February 22, 1923 in Clemenceau, (now Cottonwood), AZ to Frank and Jane Pendley. Tom grew up on the family homestead at Slide Rock, north of Sedona, where they raised apples, peaches, and pears which they sold at their roadside store. Tom attended grade school in Oak Creek Canyon, high school in Flagstaff, and university at ASU. He married Dorothy Diers in 1955 and returned to manage the family farm in Oak Creek from 1963 to 1985. Tom recognized the vulnerability of the orchard crops and added sweet corn to the produce raised at Slide Rock. He developed a loyal following of customers looking for that “picked this morning” freshness that had disappeared from the local markets. Tom’s passion for quality fruits and vegetables was the motivation for his collaborative effort in the foundation of the Coconino County Fair. He fought for the rights of the family farmer at a time when government and developers were exploiting nature’s wonders. Tom worked tirelessly to make the family farm a success and to preserve the natural beauty for generations to come. Through his efforts and those of Govenor Bruce Babbitt, Slide Rock became a State Park in 1985 and has since become one of the most popular State Parks in Arizona.

Tom and Dorothy enjoyed retirement by travelling to destinations in Alaska, Europe, and Mexico. Between trips he continued farming by raising tomatoes in his backyard garden; always with the emphasis on flavor over appearance. Tom brought the flavor of life to a family that will miss him dearly.

Tom was preceded in death by his parents, Frank L. and Jane H. Pendley, his brothers Don and Frank Pendley, sisters Jill Jonovich, Eva Young, Patricia Rueger, Marge Theriault and Joy Odell.

He leaves his wife, Dorothy of Phoenix, daughters Kathy Shaw (Ed) of Flagstaff and Karen Harkey (John) of Flagstaff, son Tom Pendley III (Kathy) of Phoenix, and three grandchildren Maya Shaw, Brooke Warren and Orion Pendley and sister Nina Lovett of Cottonwood,

A Memorial service will be held at Life in Christ Lutheran Church, Peoria, AZ, on Sunday February 28, at 3:00 p.m. (623) 773-1234.

In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to Friends of Slide Rock State Park, P.O. Box 3432, Flagstaff, AZ 86003.

Thanks to my older brother, Wayne, for sharing THIS LINK to Tom's Oral History with pictures of the apple ranch in Oak Creek that is now Slide Rock State Park.

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