Sun, Aug. 18

Paul Haywood selected as Grand Marshal for Cottonwood Christmas Parade

Paul Haywood

Paul Haywood

COTTONWOOD -- Riding near the front of the 57th Cottonwood Christmas Parade this year will be Grand Marshal Paul Haywood, and wife Roza. A Navy man, involved Realtor and a leader in the Cottonwood Chamber, Paul has been active in the community over his 73 years.

Born in Prescott, he spent time in Cornville as a young boy on his grandparent's Sexton Ranch in Cornville. When he graduated from Prescott High School at 17, he immediately joined the Navy. The Navy was his home for 24 years, retiring as Master Chief Petty Officer, having serving shipboard as well on shore at numerous Pacific stations with a Seabee Battalion. He also graduated from Del Mar College in Texas and the University of Maryland, while finishing his Navy career in Washington, DC.

Once the Navy career was behind him, Paul settled in Cottonwood where his parents lived, and joined his uncle Leonard Sexton at Century 21 Sexton Realty. Paul bought the business in 1983, eventually selling it 21-years later in 2004, but he remained as broker until 2010.

It was love at first sight when Paul saw a Hungarian girl, Roza, in a Phoenix restaurant and introduced himself. After dating they married. Paul and Roza have six grown children from California to Delaware.

Paul has always been active in the Cottonwood-area community. He served on the Yavapai College Board of Governors for six years and as its President during two of those years.

He served on the Chamber of Commerce Board for 25 years. In the early days, the Chamber had its offices in Old Town in what today is the Business Assistance Center, even though much of the business community was moving to the east.

He recalls that Jack Seitz designed and secured the lease for the building site and then they rounded up contractors and builders to volunteer donated materials and labor to construct the building in four weekends in 1982. "There are still a lot of guys in town that were involved in that."

Paul had been on the board and became President after the structure was constructed. "We became a Tourist Information Center and Governor Babbitt came and dedicated the building."

The chamber was involved in tourism and economic development.

Paul believes that one of the biggest additions to the Verde Valley was when the Phoenix Cement Plant to the Verde Valley and brought in natural gas lines. The cement operation also prompted the improvement of the former SR 279 (today SR 260). He recalls it once took about 45 minutes to travel between Cottonwood and Camp Verde.

A big change for the chamber was in technology. He remembers when the chamber hired a young NAU graduate to build the first Chamber web site. The Chamber hired Pete Sesow, which brought stability to the operation.

Paul is also Past President of the Sedona-Verde Valley Association of Realtors, serving on many SVVAR committees. He is Past Chairman of the Yavapai County Private Industry Council and a long time member and past president of the Verde Valley Rotary Club.

Cottonwood and the surrounding community was expanding rapidly. Verde Village was just beginning in the early 90s. Cottonwood was one of the best known secrets in the Verde Valley with its access to the Verde River.

Paul organized and chaired the Verde Valley Chapters of Quail Unlimited and served for eight years on its national board. The Verde Valley branch raised over $200,000 to benefit wildlife enhancement in conjunction with Arizona Game and Fish and conducted youth programs.

Paul is currently Vice President of the Verde Valley Manor Board of Directors and volunteers at VVMC.

Since retiring, Paul and Roza travel in their RV, spend time with their children and look after Paul's 92-year-old mother.