WILLCOX Favorite Son and Daughter Award
The Arizona Range News is honored to have this opportunity to recognize a favorite son or daughter who was raised in Willcox and has taken their home-grown talent outside of our borders to help make the world a better place.
This award is in honor of the late Rex Allen, Senior and in his spirit, tonight’s honoree made Willcox their home at a young age and attained some success here before venturing on to the big city. Making this announcement is so much fun, because, even at this point, the award recipient does not know they are about to receive this honor. They are learning about this the same way you are. By listening as I reveal something about them, bit by bit, this-is-your-life style.
Our favorite out-of-town son or daughter watched their pennies when they took over the family business. And did a good enough job of watching those finances to make the business a success. One good friend said nobody ever remembers our favorite son or daughter buying a round of drinks, but they’d spend 100,000 dollars on equipment for the business without blinking an eye. This person took up golf, although not seriously. As a matter of fact, they never got very good at it. Friends say our favorite son or daughter knew better than to make any wagers on their golf game. Speaking of games, this one played plenty as a kid, although they were the made-up kind you’d expect from a rural youngster who grew up on a place well outside the city.
There was that driving game our honoree played as a kid with little brother in tow. Let’s see what wild varmint the driver can hit on our way home from school. Ooh, smashing that skunk wasn’t such a good idea. We couldn’t get that smell out of the engine for weeks. Hey, when you’re driving by the age of 12, you can get a little silly.
Your brother admits you showed leadership skills, even way back then. Of course, you were the oldest of the grandkids, and sometimes leadership meant leading the others astray. Getting the others to help you tease that bull until it virtually smashed in the barn door cost you a pretty punishment.
Sometimes you did get others in trouble while escaping punishment yourself. There was that time you were a precocious 3- year-old who watched dad shoeing calves and maybe hearing him cuss a little too much when he struggled to get that rasp on their feet.
Hey, you were just imitating daddy back in the house when you pretended your dog was a calf who also wouldn’t hold still, so you smacked him with a stick and in your sternest 3-year-old voice told that mutt, stand still you son-of-a-……..ooh, mom made sure daddy didn’t get to take you with him to the corral again for another 2 or three weeks.
Now, when you became a parent, you made sure not to become exactly like your father. Well, except for the part about getting up early, even on the weekends to drag your only son out on horseback to get the cattle. Maybe you didn’t see your father in yourself when you were saddling up at 4:30 to mosey along in the pitch black dark and drag your son to the far side of the pasture and still have to wait another half hour before the sun finally came up. As far as your boy could tell, it must have been a habit passed on to you from somewhere.
And how come little daughter always got to sleep in. Yea, she got the brains in the family. And you were pretty proud of her achievements, too. An engineer. Wow.
You kind of switched careers midway through life. A little too late for your boy to avoid getting up before sunrise. But he vividly remembers as a young adult watching you blossom into your new career. Listening to you give that speech at the Willcox High School, well it just sounded like you had been doing it your whole life.
You must have been good at it, cause you got people who disagreed with you to believe in you. One lady who was from a Texas family of Yellow Dog democrats (that by the way, is a democrat who rather vote for a yella dog than a republican)…well you even got this lady to vote Republican for the first time. That’s because she was voting for you….. back in ’78 when you really didn’t expect to win. But people in Cochise and Graham County liked this rancher who headed one of their state associations and wanted to give little rural southeast Arizona a voice in the state house of representatives. Shoot, your voice was so loud and convincing to all those other legislators that in less than 10 years you became Speaker of the House.
It took courage too, when you had to stand up, at the risk of your own political career, and put an end to the political career of a fellow Republican whose dishonesty you just couldn’t stand for. It cost you re-election, too, when Graham County voters couldn’t see past their blind sympathy for that impeached colleague.
But you bounced back and became an advisor to two governors, making sure that they still heard the voice of rural Arizona, even though you had to move away from Willcox and live in that big city of Phoenix to fulfill those duties.
A lot of friends and neighbors around here miss you a lot, and say that you really are a pleasant guy to be around, even if we still do have to buy our own drinks.
Joe Lane, if you wouldn’t mind coming up here and accepting this special token of our appreciation as our Favorite Son, 2004 Rex Allen Days.
And a special nod from your brother E.B. “little Doc” Lane, your son Walter, and good buddies like Floyd Robbs and Donnie Wade, who provided some insight, maybe a little too much, into your life….and from all your constituents in our little corner of the state, we congratulate you.