Patricia “Trish” Edwards – Violinist, Seamstress and Crafty!

Trish & Chuck EdwardsDevoted wife, loving mother, dedicated to community and a multi-talented lady, Trish Edwards is a beautiful person – inside and out. A visit to the Edward’s Glen Ilah home is inspiring. It is a place clearly filled with family love, happiness and a sense of “home sweet home”. Christmas decor was being slowly dismantled when I visited. The Roth Violin, which Trish has used for 43 years, was neatly in its case under the love seat. The family cat was stealthily sneaking around the corners, and Trish’s husband Chuck, newly retired, joined us for an interview. Family photos, great memories, and some sad ones were all shared. I was impressed by this couple’s transparency. One thing this author enjoys about Yarnell and its surrounding community is the REALNESS of people. The Edwards are REAL.

Trish was born in Scranton, PA and moved at a young age to a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, where she grew up as the oldest of 5 children. She began playing the violin in the fourth Wreathgrade. During elementary school years, Trish and all of her siblings played instruments. One sibling played cello, another played flute, another coronet, one played piano, and of course, Trish on the violin. It was a family orchestral ensemble! Trish was the one who continued playing all through high school. She has had the privilege of playing in the Rock Orchestra in her Ohio High School, as well as the Parma Civic Orchestra and later was able to join the Phoenix Metro Pops Orchestra, all of which became valuable experience in her life.

Trish attended the University of Akron, graduating with her Bachelor’s Degree in Education. She would later receive her Master’s in Education from the good old “Lumberjacks” at Northern Arizona University. She is now retired from a rewarding school teaching career in Glendale, and still substitutes when she’s needed. Retirement for Trish is no lazy affair! She is very active in the community, serving on committees and volunteering where necessary. She also has several hobbies that engage her time at home. Notice the picture of the beautiful Christmas Wreath – a creation by Trish. She is versatile in her handcrafts, and is also quite the seamstress. She sews and embroiders by hand or with a machine. She also loves gardening, both ornamental flowers and vegetables. Trish is very active in the Presbyterian Church, playing the violin in a small group regularly. Her mentality is simple: she enjoys it! It’s not what defines her, but rather, she defines what she enjoys doing.

HomeShe met her other half, Chuck, in the old fashioned “Sadie Hawkins” method. She asked him to dance, and in fact, it was at Houlihan’s in Phoenix that the couple met in 1982. Chuck and Trish will be celebrating their 30th anniversary this June 29th. They both explained that they will never forget the date the Yarnell Hill Fire ignited, since it was their anniversary weekend. The property behind their home, right up against Walt and Dolores Eckes house, was burned badly. But thankfully, THIS time, their home was untouched. Once before, it was nearly destroyed by a lightning strike, in 1996. The Edwards bought the home in 1992, and at the time, it was their weekend get-away home. Their main residence was in Glendale, where they raised 2 beautiful daughters, Jessica and Allison. Both Chuck and Trish worked in Glendale, but really loved Yarnell/Glen Ilah. When the 1996 lightning storm hit their roof, nothing was left but a couple outside walls and the fireplace. A neighbor called to tell them the house was on fire. Chuck expounds, “The house was built in 1929, and had very Daughter's Weddingold electric, and nothing was up to code. My first thought was, ‘LET IT BURN'”, he laughed. “When the insurance money came through we were able to rebuild, so much better than before.” Trish added that these are the trials of life that make people stronger. She is right, and many of our residents can agree with that!

Chuck Edwards grew up in Neptune, NJ (one of my old haunts!). He is a year younger than his only sister. Chuck is no stranger to a houseful of women! God bless him. So, how does a Ohio Girl meet a New Jersey boy in Phoenix? That was my question. Both Trish and Chuck had done extensive travelling, and Chuck loved cross country trips. Both of them loved Arizona from the first visit, and boom – that’s how they got here. Chuck told an interesting story, which could almost be a “Twilight Zone” lost episode. He had been travelling cross country in 1977, and was filming randomly with his 8mm video camera. Years later, after moving to this area, he was watching the 1977 film, and realized that he had filmed the Highway 89 Yarnell Hill climb from Congress, never really remembering it, but also never realizing that he would actually LIVE in Yarnell someday! What’s meant to be is, well – meant to be…

GraduationChuck officially retired from his position at Fry’s Market in Glendale on January 3rd, 2014. He, like Trish, will never be in retirement boredom. For one thing, he has a great “Man Cave”, a beautiful little building in the back yard that he built himself, with a nice patio and sliding glass doors. It houses his entire movie collection, which is one of his hobbies. He has collected approximately 600 DVD’s including many favorites: Star Wars, The Winds of War (television series), and anything else he enjoys watching.

Another passion of Chuck’s is Elk Hunting, and in fact there are a couple elk skulls in the Edwards’ yard. The Mogollan Rim are is his Elk hunting territory. He explained to me that GraduationElk is a very gamey tasting meat, and many don’t like the strongness of it. Since I haven’t tasted Elk yet, I’m curious now! What’s included in Chuck’s retirement to do list? Volunteering for Community efforts. No one is quite sure if HE volunteered for this, or if he has BEEN volunteered for this. Chuck’s a good man, and he doesn’t mind, and for that, we are all grateful. At a recent party in honor of his retirement, we were all pleased to hear Chuck’s rendition of “Bad, Bad LeRoy Brown”. Sign him up! The man can sing…

Recently, Chuck and Trish had the honor of hosting their oldest daughter’s (Jess) wedding at their Glen Ilah home. They sold the Glendale house to their daughter and new son-in-law. The couple now reside full time in Glen Ilah. We are a lucky community! Their Petssecond daughter, Allison, is a graduate student in the field of Physical Therapy. As of now, Trish and Chuck have no grandchildren, accept of course for Ginger and Sadie, the canine kids. Ginger is the white cutie, and she is about 6 years old. They acquired Ginger from the animal shelter, and Trish explains: “She has a Con mentality”. You see, Ginger has a bad habit of stealing things, right out from under your nose. Chuck was working with tools, and Ginger walked away with them. Trish put something on the dinner plate, Ginger walked away with it. She was a sneaky sort, but they’re doing a good job of breaking the bad habit. Sadie is a black dog, a bit larger than Ginger, who they have owned for 5 months. For now, Ginger and Sadie are the “grand kids”.

I asked Trish what she would love to accomplish or do in the next five years, and she quickly responded that one dream she has to go camping in Europe. She wants to see the countries, but not from a train, rather from their RV. She wants to meet the people and really experience the culture, not in hotels, but by camping. What a great dream. And somehow, I have a feeling it will become a reality for them.

Thank you Trish, for the exemplary love for family and commitment to community you show us. And thank for sharing your talents and music whenever the opportunity arises. Chuck, congratulations on your new life venture; your positive and happy nature are contagious, and we all look forward to seeing the impact you will have in Yarnell. Here’s to the future!

Artist and Musician – Walt Eckes

“If it doesn’t touch me, it won’t happen.”

Walt Eckes is no stranger to hardship; nor is he a stranger to happiness. Walt, simply put, is a realist.

Walt & Delores EckesWe recently had the pleasure of a wonderful visit with Walt and his lovely wife of 44 years, Dolores, in their comfortable Glen Ilah home – a home that certainly mirrors the couples’ various interests, and their individual personalities. From exotic birds in a cozy sunlit atrium, to a park-like scenic fish pond, complete with a bench made for two, the house truly is their home. Walt and Dolores met in Manhattan, and it’s no secret that they are both New York natives. As soon as one of them speaks, an accent only found in NYC emerges in their speech. It’s a pleasant sound, not harsh, and this author finds it amusing (since I am a Jersey native).

Both Walt and Dolores have compelling stories to share, and both are forthright in recounting their memories. There is no pretense – who you see is exactly who you get – an admirable quality in today’s often fabricated world.

We began our visit by being introduced to “Sonny” and “Cher”, and none of us can be sure Walt & parrotwhich one should be called “Sonny”, and which one should be called “Cher”. A blood test is needed to precisely indicate the gender….Walt’s educated guess is the names fit accurately. Sonny and Cher are two of the most vividly colored tropical birds I have ever seen in person. They are housed along with a Cockatoo, called Tango, and another parrot-like pet, in the home’s glassy sunlit atrium. These birds are impressive! Cher likes to kiss Walt, and she savors spreading her wings in a proud moment. Cher is not caged, but as Walt and Dolores explained, she could easily pummel any one of the house cats if needed.

As we entered the upstairs living space, Walt made mention of some beautiful artwork in Wall of Artthe hallway, accomplished by talented artists he knows personally. When we entered the Eckes living room, he showed us some more paintings, some of which are so clearly defined I thought I was viewing photographs. These paintings were the result of Walt’s inspiration and his own paintbrush. There is no “abstract” in his creativity. His talent is indeed a reflection of his no-nonsense personality, what he sees is what he paints. But it’s deeper than that: when I asked Walt what artist inspired him the most, he shared a memory from an art class he attended years ago. He related that there he was, with a blank canvas, all the necessary tools, other art students and a teacher. In front of them was a poignantly captivating scenic view. The teacher said, “Okay, class, let’s get painting.” But Walt felt nothing at that moment; the view was great, but it didn’t grab his heart, and it certainly didn’t make him want to spit out what he saw onto a canvas. He informed his teacher by asking, “Paint what?”.

If Walt isn’t touched, he won’t paint it. But trust me, when he is touched, the paintings come ALIVE, leaving no doubt in your mind that Walt was inspired. His artistic ability is Sedona, AZquite stunning. During darker periods of his life, Dolores remembers that Walt’s paintings had a “dark” tone. And as life changed, so did Walt’s color scheme. My husband and I enjoyed seeing the Long Island’s North Shore, Walt’s rendition of a well-known New York harbor and boat. His works inspired by scenic Sedona, AZ are truly amazing. Dolores explained that she and Walt displayed his artwork in downtown Yarnell for awhile, where the Yarnell Emporium is located now. However, his art is a hobby – not to make money, but simply for enjoying what he does.

That very same philosophy applies to Walt’s music. This is a musician who loves the music, has a great time performing and recording, but it’s not his occupation, which is exactly WHY he enjoys it. The music studio is a separate building, and is affectionately called “Wally World”. Yarnell Hill Fire threatened its fury, approaching two feet from destroying this cozy one-room gallery/studio. In fact, the flames destroyed an outbuilding on the neighboring property, which is owned by Walt & Dolores’ son, who resides primarily in Peoria. The Eckes’, like many of us, were elated and grateful to find that though threatened, they were spared. That elation was short lived when like us, they learned of so many lives destroyed by the fire in Yarnell. Inspiration struck again, as Walt and Dolores decided to create and promote the “Hidden Faces Benefit” at the Muleshoe Animal Clinic on September 21st. The variety concert was a tremendous success.  Dolores was the “keep everything straight for her husband, administrative genius” (and apparently she fills that role often!).  Walt was the advertiser and scheduler, using his extensive contact list of well-known musicians around the state of Arizona, which all agreed to volunteer that day. The proceeds benefited Petey’s Playground, a non-profit organization that provides pet services.  Petey’s Playground was an enormous help during and after the fire evacuation period, by providing pet care for many pet owners who were not able to provide for their animals. To Walt and Dolores, this was a “Hidden Face”, and they shared that passion with others. The result was an event that raised awareness and better yet – funds!

As my husband and I sat on a very comfortable couch in “Wally World”, Walt talked music Walt Eckes Studiowith me. He is an avid BLUES man, inspired by the blues greats: Eric Clapton and Muddy Waters, also known as “the father of modern Chicago Blues”. We talked about Paris James, who is a personal friend of Walt’s, and performed his blues magic at the Hidden Faces Benefit. We talked about recording background tracks, and several music-related things we have in common. He plays guitar and sings for one reason: something inspires him about a tune, and he simply enjoys it. As a fellow musician, I can safely say, there is only one way to be passionate about music, and Walt has the concept perfectly: music and art come from heart felt inspiration and emotions of the soul.

Walt and Dolores share an innate sense of humor. One of their favorite movies is “Idiocracy”, a sci-fi satirical comedy, about which Dolores finds several societal truths. She Tangoexplains that the whole situation is hysterical. Walt’s quick witted jibs and jabs remind me of the character Hawkeye Pierce in the television sitcom “M.A.S.H.” Sometimes, if you’re not paying close attention, you might miss a good laugh!

The one thing he is most proud of to date: his son, who he describes as having “a good head on his shoulders, and turned out great.” The one thing that Walt would change to date: “Absolutely nothing. Everything in my life to this point has shaped who I am, and has enabled what I do…” – a commendable life statement, especially knowing that Walt, a retired US Marine, who served in Vietnam (1965-1966), was a POW for 39 days, leaving him severely mal-nourished, and forever scarred, both physically and spiritually. Yet, as he so aptly stated it: “There are no atheists in a prison camp.” He spoke regularly with the “Man Upstairs” while he was held by the NVA. And he credits the opportunity to escape as coming from the same. He has questions with no answers, but he counters them with the positives in his life:  his wife, children and grandchildren, his passions for music and art,  and all the opportunities he can embrace when something touches him.

Thank you, Walt Eckes. The things that touch you quickly become inspiration for others – because you live what you love! You’re a good man.
And thank you Dolores Eckes, you’re the great woman behind him.


Weaver Mountain BandOne of the first people I had the pleasure of meeting in Yarnell was the owner of the Yarnell Market, Andy Bacon. I remember my dear husband, Lou (my promoter, biggest fan and recording producer) quickly informing Andy of my music career, which he does everywhere we go!  (I love it, of course.) Andy was kind enough to sell my gospel CD, “Light My Path”, on consignment at his store and is now selling my new CD “Ash n’ Blues”.

Through the conversation, he shared with Lou and I that he is also a musician – a rhythm guitarist and singer with the band, Man Down, formerly known as The Weaver Mountain Band.That was my first exposure to a fellow Yarnell musician. I have had the pleasure of singing and playing along with Andy in church, and at a fundraiser for Weaver Care Resources. It was fun and refreshing! Since then, I was able to get to know the other members of Man Down. Andy is moving on…life is taking him to New Mexico. The remaining band members have formed under a different name: “Spatz”. Meet them here!

GENRE: Rock, Classic Rock

Cliff Dupuy - Bass
Delbert Long - Lead Guitar and Vocals
Stephan Gutowski - Drums

BOOKINGS INFORMATION: Call Cliff Dupuy @ 928-427-6476

The band’s members are native to California. Cliff Dupuy, bass guitar, has lived in the Yarnell area for 4+ years. While listening to Cliff play the driving force behind all chords, you would never guess that he only seriously started playing almost 2 years. Cliff is a veteran, having served in the US Navy. (Thanks for serving, Cliff). His life partner is Garnet. There is a store in Yarnell called “Patty & Sons”, of which Cliff is one of the sons.  This is another place all visitors to Yarnell need to see!  It’s full of antiques, jewelry, polished Arizona rocks, you name it. (Great store to acquire some souvenirs, fyi.)

Delbert Long – WOW, lead guitarist PRIMO – is also originally from California. He is the Weaver Mountain Bandnewest member of the band and has lived in the Yarnell area for almost a year. Delbert has played guitar for 40 years, and the rest of the band is thrilled he has joined them.

The drummer, who’s been so aptly rockin’ the beat for 53 years, Stephan Gutowski, is also from California, but has called Arizona home for the last 25 years. His seasoned talent is very evident, not to mention Stephan is fun to watch as he becomes one with the sticks.


Weaver Mountain Band

Thank you Spatz, for keeping Yarnell PUMPED!