Chuck Mabery was one of those guys who was easy to know. He tended to be everywhere and have one of his fingers in every pie. The Verde Valley could count him among the soldiers of good society and civil development. If you didn't know Chuck, you missed your chance. Hopefully, there will be more like him.
An Arizona native, Mabery was born in the desert in Yuma, Dec. 4, 1926, and graduated from Yuma High School. He spent a year in the postal service before enlisting in the navy, went to San Diego to train and was assigned to the Battleship Wisconsin.
After he was discharged, Chuck went to what was then called Arizona State College at Tempe and graduated with a love and gift for writing. That gift got him a position as a sports and farm reporter, first, at the Yuma Daily Sun, editorship of the Arizona Wildlife-Sportsman and eventually, managing editor of the Prescott Courier in 1958.
It was in 1960 that he moved his family to Cottonwood.
He and Dorothy first owned and operated the Western Auto Store on Main Street. He worked for several years at the Verde Independent and then worked as an insurance agent for Leonard Sexton, eventually opening Mabery and Associates, in 1971 with son, Dan. Dan took over that business while Chuck began managing Yavapai Title
Former County Supervisor Carlton Camp remembers "Chuck was always a big supporter of mine, even after I was elected County Supervisor. "
Camp became a U of A County Agent. He had been teaching "ag" at Mingus Union High School. Camp was one of son Rick's teachers. "I can remember Chuck coached Rick in Public Speaking and he went on to the state competition.
"Chuck was always ready to help and he had a lot of devotion to his family."
Family members have gone on to become leaders in the family tradition.
Bob Gillies was the former Sedona District Ranger for the Coconino Forest. "Our kids grew up together. He was always a nice guy and enthusiastic."
Chuck and his second wife Creta began growing organic vegetables on the Cottonwood ranchland until the flood of 1993 destroyed the irrigation system. That was the impetus for the Mabery family to raise and open the Blazin' M Ranch Old West Dinner show, which continues to attract crowds today.
During 40 years, Chuck was involved in the growth and improvement of Cottonwood and was among its visionaries. He served as a board member on the Cottonwood Progressive Association, the Verde Valley Chamber of Commerce and finally, the Cottonwood Chamber.
He was co-chair of the Cottonwood Parade for eight years with George Thomas and was named VVCC "Man of the Year" in 1965.
In addition to the popular Blazin' M Ranch, perhaps Chuck is best know among the founders of the Verde Valley Fair Association.
Mabery was a hard worker too.
"When we were building the Verde Valley Fair, we worked all day and then stayed all night guarding the place," said old friend Don Godard.
In recent years, Chuck had been living in Prescott's Arizona Pioneers' Home.
Godard had just visited Chuck last week and knew that time was getting tight. "He was still asking about a lot of old friends. He was well loved in this community," said Don. "I didn't know anyone that had a bad word for him."
Mabery also served as board member for the Camp Verde Historical Society, Verde Valley Manor Retirement Center, Cottonwood's first Planning and Zoning Commission, and spent 31 years on the Yavapai County Industrial Development Authority. He also served on the board of governors of Yavapai College and was instrumental in establishing the Verde Campus. He was the recipient of its first honorary degree.
It's hard to put your finger on the most important contribution, but Godard believes that the Blazin' M Ranch Supper Club and Dinner show was among his finest. He said, "We always went there a lot and took our friends."
Chuck Mabery had four children, 13 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, many of whom still live in Cottonwood.