1st governor, family buried in Papago Park
Jan. 12, 2006 12:00 AM
The pyramid-shaped tomb of Arizona's first governor is in Papago Park. Is anyone else buried in it, and who pays for upkeep of the site?
Did you know that Papago Park hasn't always been a city park?
It was originally set aside in 1879 as a reservation for the Maricopa and Pima Indian tribes.
In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson designated the area as the Papago Saguaro National Monument, a move that Congress undid in 1930 at the urging of state and city interests that wanted the land.
It's also been a prisoner-of-war camp, the site of a veterans hospital and headquarters for various military units.
The state sold the land to Phoenix in 1959.
About the tomb: It is the final resting place of Arizona's first governor, George Wiley Paul Hunt; his wife, Helen; her parents; and her sister, Lena.
Hunt had been greatly impressed by the pyramids of Egypt on a trip there a few years before his wife's death in 1931. So he got permission to build a 20- by 20-foot white pyramid as the family tomb.
"The people of this state have been good to me, and in my last sleep I want to be buried (so) that I may in my spirit overlook this splendid Valley that in years to come will be a mecca of those that love beautiful things and in the state where people rule," he said.
He got his wish and joined his wife in the tomb in 1934.
As far as I know, the tomb's upkeep is provided by city park crews.
Here is an interesting way to kill some time: www.findagrave.com. It tells you who is in various cemeteries all over the world. It shows 113 listings for Arizona.
Anyway, Hunt was quite a guy. He is believed to hold the national record for being elected governor; he served as Arizona's first, second, third, sixth, seventh, eighth and 10th governor.
A native of Missouri, he arrived in Globe in 1881 more or less broke, and within 10 years became one of the richest men in the state.
He used to buy cases of jam and peel off the labels, and when he was campaigning, he would hand you one and say his wife had been making jam the other day and wanted you to have some.
President Wilson appointed him ambassador to Siam, not necessarily for his diplomatic skills but to keep him from running for the U.S. Senate against another Democrat.
Reach Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (602) 444-8612.