Arizona Stories: A Governor’s Life

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Sun City

Del Webb was among Arizona’s foremost builders. His fame in the ‘60s came from turning a 10,000-acre cotton field into Sun City. When somebody purchased a home in Sun City, they weren’t just buying a house – they bought a way of life. Some of the things included in Sun City were a golf course, a shopping center, rec center and restaurant. The developers knew if they wanted Sun City to be successful they needed to include the amenities that they promised.

Sun City opened on January 1, 1960, but people were unsure how quickly the lots would sell. The community became an immediate success with most of the residents loving it. 

Governor Hunt

Arizona’s first governor might be the most memorable, if not the most recognizable. George Wiley Paul Hunt was born in 1859 in Huntsville, Missouri. He made his way to Arizona in 1881. Hunt got to work for a local mercantile and bank called the Old Dominion Commercial Company. Within 10 years, he was its president.

It was in Globe, Arizona, that Hunt found his calling for politics. He decided to run for county office to launch his political career. Hunt may have lost that race, but in 1892, was elected to the territorial house of representatives. He served seven terms, in what is now the Senate. Hunt was elected to preside over the Arizona Constitutional Convention in 1910. When Arizona became a state, Hunt became its first governor.

Falcon Field

Every year at a cemetery in Mesa, former British pilots return to remember the men who died while training at Falcon Field during World War II. The ceremony celebrates the bond between the United States and Great Britain in war and peace. British pilots began training in the Sonoran Desert at Falcon Field in 1941, and they were quickly accepted by the local population. 

Today, Falcon Field Airport is home for nearly 1,000 aircraft and multiple businesses. Very little remains of the site where the RAF cadets lived and trained.

The Rosson House

While the restored Victorian Rosson House is an elegant reminder of the past, the house did not always stand so proudly. The house was completed in 1895, after Flora Rosson purchased the land in 1882 for $1,000. The Rosson family only lived in the house for a short time before renting it to Whitelaw Reid, an influential New York newspaper man. 

In 1897, the Rosson’s sold the house to Phoenix merchant and legislator Aaron Goldberg. Goldberg owned the house for about five years before he sold it to Steven W. Higley. Higley eventually sold the house to the Gammel family, who lived there for nearly 35 years.

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