Neil McLeod is the "Institutional Memory" for the Verde Village Property Owners Association. A party has been organized in his honor Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Verde Village Clubhouse. Everyone is invited.
Current President Mal Otterson, who is hosting the party, has only been in the Village for only a handful of years, but makes it clear that Neil McLeod is among the stalwarts of the organization and an invaluable historian. In fact, Neil had been acting as secretary of the organization until the past few months when he has gotten sick. But then, Neil is also 92 years old.
He has lived alone since his wife, Jesse, died, and is now moving to Kansas to be with his daughters.
Anyone involved in the Verde Village organization will tell you that he has been one of the important cogs in the organization. A friend, Jack Murray, says there "would have been nothing whatsoever" without Neil McLeod.
Most of his peers are long gone, but "back in the day," Verde Village was very hands-on, and when if you wanted something, you sponsored it yourself. The Verde Village Clubhouse was built by a local carpenter and 16 to 20 volunteers, all local residents.
Ned Warren's Queen Creek Land and Cattle Company started selling lots in the village in 1968. A fledgling homeowners association was formed in 1972. Neil McLeod arrived in 1978.
Volunteers have always maintained the clubhouse building, the swimming pool and monitored the pump from the irrigation ditch that feeds the duck pond. All remember that Neil was in the middle of the action.
Neil served in every position on the board over the years, from president to treasurer. He also acted on the association's architectural committee.
A former VVPOA president, Ruth Johnson, said that you could do anything in the organization if you could organize it. Neil McLeod liked to dance and found and hired bands to play for dances at the Clubhouse that were held regularly each month.
Johnson says many of the residents had come from the Midwest and were rural folks and would barbecue a side of beef each year, the women would make pies and sell other hand-crafted things. And Neil McLeod would be there collecting membership dues.
For many years, McLeod was editor of the Verde Village Roundup, a local newspaper that would run up to 24 pages.
George Trapp, now head of the Architectural Committee says, McLeod's daughters have been cleaning out Neil's trailer where he had every edition of the Roundup. "It is a gold mine of history." Trapp carried out 15 boxes of the old editions to be placed in the association archives.
She first got involved in the association, Ruth Johnson remembers, because the leader of each village unit would deliver the Roundup to every house including a copy to her porch.
Neil also wrote and published a history of the Verde Villages and copies can still be found.
"He was Mr. Verde Village, he took care of everything," said Ovid Mallo, who has been in the Village for about 15 years and worked with Neil on the electrical system and other projects at the clubhouse.'
Neil was also be at the regular spaghetti dinners and would help at the pool.
County Supervisor Chip Davis could always count on Neil being an anchor for the association, "He is a perfect example of a community activist. He held things together over the years. He would come in and we would figure out how the association and the county could work cooperatively to enforce the CC&Rs. Folks always come up with reasons why they can't volunteer, but here is a man that at 92 has given his life to the community."
Verde Village was not the only place he volunteered. He would give time regularly to the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce.
"He is one fine fellow," according to Jack Murray. "I don't know a soul that ever argued with Neil. He would play both ends against the middle. He didn't always get his way, but he acted like he did."