Harold and Diane Lovett have lived nearly 40 years in the Verde Valley area and both have contributed to its growth and well-being. They have been named grand marshals of the 54th annual Cottonwood Christmas Parade, scheduled Dec. 6.
After moving from Orange County, Calif., Harold began working with his brother in real estate in Sedona. But, it was too hard to make a living in 1968; 2½-acre lots on State Route 89A were selling for $9,950 and no one was buying.
He was involved in civic clubs and Little League in California and continued both those activities here.
About the same time, Diane and her mother bought property in Bridgeport. She "grew up on a small Montana ranch," and had a love of horses. That passion has continued throughout her life. They met over real estate and Harold told her she needed to pass her real estate test.
Two significant subdivisions exist in the Cottonwood today because of development efforts of the Lovett brothers: the Black Hills subdivision on the north and Quail Run on the southern border of Cottonwood.
Harold was a founding member of the Kiwanis Club in Sedona and had also been a member of the Lions.
Diane had been a member of a successful saddle club in Montana. In 1980, she was a founding member of the Verde Valley Horseman's Council and still sits on its board today even though she no longer has her own horses and doesn't ride. The stated purpose of the council is to "promote and protect the horse, the horseman, and our Western Heritage as a way of life." The board has long been active in securing riding trails and keeping them open. "That is becoming harder and harder," she admits.
A personal goal was to establish the Lime Kiln Trail, a project Diane worked toward for 25 years. The trail links Cottonwood to Sedona cross-country over forest land. She is now working to develop another trail, but is not ready to identify it.
Harold and Diane were married in 1977 and just celebrated their 30th anniversary.
Diane also has served on the Yavapai County Planning Commission and currently is a member of the Cottonwood Planning Commission. "The area did not have good planning for a long time. It is important to keep the area nice," she says
"We really belong to the community," she says.
She is most proud of the annual Caballeros de Sol Trail Ride, the week-long fund-raising trail rides to benefit locally born charities, such as the Verde Historical Society, Camp Verde Historical Society and programs like the Yavapai County Animal Disaster Shelter service. With 150 people participating from all over the United States, Lovett says it is more difficult to find areas to ride. In recent years, the ride took participants to Perkinsville and Arcosanti.
Harold was active on the Chamber of Commerce, when it was still the Verde Valley Chamber. Both Harold and Diane have been board members on the Verde Valley Fair Association.
She is a volunteer with pet Partners at the Verde Valley Medical Center, where dogs are used to help with patients healing.
After nearly 40 years, Harold and Diane continue to be active participants in the Cottonwood community.