Pioneer of the Year

    • Must be still living at time of recognition
    • Must have lived in Chandler for 50 years
    • Must have made a significant contribution to the history of Chandler

    1991– Jasper Sossaman

    1992– Alice Woods

    1993– Anne Williams

    1994– Kenneth Knox

    1995- Mary Bernal

    1996– Bertha Tate Vest

    1997– Bernice Calley

    1998– Faith Sossaman

    1999– Earl Krepela

    2000– Pauline Openshaw

    2001– Joe Villalobos

    2002– Pryor  & Marlene Sanborn

    2003– Pete Fletcher & Bertha Tate Vest

    2004– Harry McCoy & Willetta Riggs

    2005– Corley Haggarton & Ann Patterson

    2006– Dr. Rodger Fuller & Audrey Ryan

    2007– Coy Payne & Edna Davis

    2008– Norman & Barbara Knox


    Kenny Thomas:  Kenny is a native Arizonan who came to Chandler for a summer job before he went into the Navy during WWII. Upon discharge, he returned to Chandler, married a local girl and set up a meat processing business, which he maintained for nearly 50 years.  Along the way, he became involved in City politics, first serving on the City Council and later was elected Mayor of Chandler in 1976.  He is well known for his outstanding photography and has thousands of slides and photos from all over the world.  Long a member of the Chandler Historical Society, he has served several times on the Board of Directors, has been a strong financial contributor and has developed and printed hundreds of photos for the Historical Society’s collection.

    La’Von Woods: La’Von Woods came to <city w:st="on"><place w:st="on">Chandler</place></city> as a young child and has lived here ever since. She eventually became one of the busiest ladies in the area, as status which continues to the present time.  During her career years, she was first a community organizer for the Chandler CAP and later became the Director of that same program, and eventually advanced to Council Coordinator for Social Services delivered to low income in the East Valley CAP offices.  After some time in that position La’Von was promoted to Social Services Parent Involvement Coordinator for Maricopa County Headstart for all of the <place w:st="on"><placename w:st="on">East</placename> <placetype w:st="on">Valley</placetype></place>.  She was instrumental in bringing the Maricopa County Headstart Program to <city w:st="on"><place w:st="on">Chandler</place></city>.  La’Von has received many awards for Community Service over the years and has had the honor of being the first African American on several city commissions. She organized the first Black History Celebration in <city w:st="on"><place w:st="on">Chandler</place></city> as well as the Miss Juneteenth Pageant. She has always been very active in her church, the <place w:st="on"><placetype w:st="on">Mt.</placetype> <placename w:st="on">Olive</placename> <placename w:st="on">Missionary</placename> <placename w:st="on">Baptist</placename> <placetype w:st="on">Church</placetype></place>, holding a number of offices and participating in a myriad of ministries. 


    2010– Eddie Basha & Steena Murray

    2011– Max & Irene Dossey

    2012– Bob & Danell Tarwater

    Citizens of History

    • Must have made a significant contribution to the history of (or preserving the history of) Chandler
    • Must have lived in the Chandler area for 50 years
    • Must have involvement, past or present, in a local civic organization
    • May be an individual, a couple or a family

    Honored in 2005

    Eulogio “Lefty” Soto

    Annabelle Bossick

    Audrey Ryan

    Carlanthe Turner

    Josephine Jackson

    Honored in 2006

    Norman & Barbara Knox

    Norman & Terry Saba

    Ernie & Eva Serrano

    Kenneth Thomas

    Honored in 2007

    Leota Thomas

    Manny Valenzuela

    Kenny England

    Palmer Boberg

    The Dobson Family

    Honored in 2008

    The Brooks Family

    Glenn & Ila McCollum

    Jamie & Sue Sossaman

    Marshall Humphrey

    Guy Whitten

    Honored in 2009

    Dr. Noel J. Stowe:  Dr. Noel J. Stowe was a leader in Arizona’s historical community. Initially coming to Arizona to teach at ASU, he eventually became the Associate Dean of Graduate Study in the History Department. His interests in history soon led him into the community, locally, statewide and nationally. He made many innovative contributions to the furtherance of opportunities for historians.  In June 2008, he received the Governor’s Heritage Preservation Honor Award. 

    Joe & Alice Woods: Joe and Alice came to Chandler in 1931, shortly after they were married to buy the Chandler theater.  They renamed it “Rowena”, Joe’s mother’s name.  A few years later they converted the old Monroe Building into the Parkway Theater. Later yet, they added a third theater to their business, the Mustang Drive-in. One or more of their theaters were in business for nearly 40 years, providing reasonably priced family entertainment and jobs for Chandler residents.  In addition to their businesses, they found time to raise a family and become active in various civic organizations.  Joe was active in the Chandler Rotary Club and the Mesa Elks Lodge. Alice was a life member in the Chandler Service Club, East Valley Altrusa, the Desert Samaritan Advisory Board, volunteered at the Salvation Day Care Center for over 20 years and served several terms on the Board of Directors for the Chandler Historical Society.  Alice was also honored by the Chandler Historical Society as an “Outstanding Woman of Chandler”.

    John Dick: John Dick, came to Chandler in 1953 and established a successful law practice.  He has served the City and Maricopa County as part of his legal profession, holding offices in some of the allied association organizations. He was honored by the Arizona State Bar Association in 2004 for over 50 years as a practicing attorney.  John has been active in his church also for over 50 years, serving in many positions and helping establish the Chandler Christian School and serving on its Board.  As a charter member of the Chandler Kiwanis Club, he is part of all the activities of the Kiwanis and the City of Chandler, including helping to construct the first Tumbleweed Tree. He is a member of Chandler’s “Adopt a Park” program.  The Chandler City Council proclaimed May 27, 2004 as “John Dick Day”.

    Nathan J. Harris: Nathan J. Harris, one of Chandler's first African-American residents, came to the city with founder Dr. A.J. Chandler and served as his chauffeur.  In 1932, Harris opened his own restaurant, Harris' Bar-B-Q (known as the best bar-b-que in town) originally on Arizona Ave.  The initial structure for the restaurant after the move to Saragosa Street (which was one of the more popular places to eat in the city for decades) was a decommissioned 100,000-gallon city water tank. Harris prided himself in hard labor.  One of Harris' great contributions to the City of Chandler, was encouraging people to remain law abiding citizens, and another was feeding the local laborers and allowing them to pay when their funds permitted. People from all walks of life sought him for direction in life's tumult and NJ always shared words of wisdom.  He enjoyed making jewelry, fishing and hunting as his favorite pass time, the other was carpentry.  Some of his craftiest work is the current bedroom suit of his great granddaughter LaVon Woods. Harris remained in the neighborhood until his death in 1958.  In recent years a Neighborhood park formerly known as Elgin Park, was renamed after Harris and a history kiosk erected in the park details the history of the African-American and Hispanic communities that developed in the area surrounding the park in the early days of Chandler. Harris was one of Chandler's first African American residents and business owners.

    Honored in 2010

    Julia Hall Yelsits

    Fred & Elizabeth Neat

    Zora Folley

    Arbuckle Family

    Navarrete Family

    Honored in 2011

    Jimmy David Family

    Wilford & Claire Phelps

    W.G. Austin

    Jinx Patterson

    Jerry Brooks

    Dudding Family

    Honored in 2012

    John A. Hamilton

    Ralph & Ruth Wheeler

    Jim & Dorothy Trees

    Joseph Love, Sr., and Joseph Love, Jr.

    George & Etta Frye

    Buzz Scarborough

    Coy Beasley

    J.F. “Gene” Patterson

    Dr. Joseph & Patricia Ryan Family

    Schnepf Family

    Outstanding Women of Chandler

    The Outstanding Women of Chandler project was created to recognized women who have made a significant contribution to the founding of our city.  The women selected as Chandler’s Outstanding Women have lived in Chandler for more than 50 years, have      contributed to the City of Chandler both in and out of the home, and they have made a significant impact within the community.  The first group of Outstanding Women was nominated by the community and selected by the Chandler Historical Society in 2006.

    Honored in 2006

    Barbara Gaddis Knox

    Ella Calley Blythe

    Mary Lois Richards Karkula

    Audrey Stall Ryan

    Emma Jackson Arbuckle

    Glennys “Terry” Paul Saba

    Bernice McAdams Calley

    Jean Wagner Grover

    Honored in 2007

    Glen LaVon Kemp Woods

    Barbara Caine Bogle

    Margaret Patricia “Pat” Quigley Ryan

    Honored in 2008

    Willetta May Nelson Riggs

    Honored in 2009

    Dorothy Woods Ruoff

    Lucia Rodarte Madrid

    Joan Zidan Saba

    Honored in 2010

    Donna Ellsworth Bolen

    Wynoma Jung

    Honored in 2011

    Nancy Ryan Jerdee

    Donna Wallace

    Patti Bruno

    Helen Osborne Enloe

    Carol Dobson

    Honored in 2012

    Marilyn Jean Harter

    Glenna McCollum-Cloud

    Mary Krepela

    A.J. Chandler Award

    The Dr. A.J. Chandler award is given infrequently and only to those who have had significant involvement with the Chandler Historical Society.


    • Must have made a significant contribution to the history of (or preserving the history of) Chandler
    • Must have lived in the Chandler area for 50 years
    • Must have involvement, past or present, in a local civic organization
    • May be an individual, a couple or a family

    The Dr. A.J. Chandler award, which is reserved for honorees who have made a significant time and/or financial contribution to the Chandler Historical Society

    Year Uncertain
    Niels Kreipke and Desert Viking

    2009 Honoree
    Jim Patterson

    2010 Honoree

    Propstra Family

    2011 Honoree

    Chandler Service Club


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