JULY HISTORIC LEGEND: LEONARD MONTI SR. (1912-2016)

The late restaurateur Leonard Monti Sr. once told a newspaper interviewer he wanted to be a “top-notch boxer,” but he broke his hand, putting an end to that ambition.  The article’s headline borrowed from the famous film line of Marlon Brando: “I coulda been a contendah.”    Instead, Leonard became Tempe’s best-known restaurant operator where just saying “Monti’s” was enough …

JULY LIVING LEGEND: DAVID SAAR

David Saar is forever identified as the founding artistic director of Childsplay, a beloved theater company launched in 1977 in Tempe that has flooded the imaginations, minds, and memories of people of all ages.    At last count, Childsplay has performed for more than 3.7 million children and adults throughout the Southwest.  He has directed and taught actors for Childsplay …

New THS Board Member: Dr. Christine Marin

Christine Marin, Professor Emeritus. Archivist-Historian, Arizona State University.  Dr. Marin is the founder of the prestigious archival repository, the Chicano/a Research Collection and Archives at the Hayden Library in Tempe, Arizona. As Adjunct Faculty Associate in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, she taught courses on the history of Mexican Americans for the History Department and the School of …

JUNE HISTORIC LEGEND: MARY BISHOP (1930-2017)

Her flame burned brightly for public education, civil rights, and the dignity of work.  Mary Bishop did her part in getting Arizona to embrace equal rights and social justice. She experienced school segregation and prejudice, but she took satisfaction at the results of the tenacious work of many to make change.   “I marched around Phoenix to open up counters …

JUNE LIVING LEGEND: SALT RIVER PIMA-MARICOPA INDIAN COMMUNITY

This sesquicentennial year offers a unique opportunity to honor the special relationship between the City of Tempe and its neighbor to the northeast, The Salt River Pima – Maricopa Indian Community (SRP-MIC).  While our two communities regularly work together overcoming common challenges and pursuing shared values and goals, this relationship also serves as a continuing reminder of the rich local …

IN MEMORIAM: LUIS BURGOS (1927-2021)

Luis G. Burgos passed away in hospice care in Tempe, Arizona, the city where he was born, after a short illness on April 5, 2021. He was 93. He was born into a very loving and close family. His parents Juliana Gonzales Burgos and Francisco Burgos raised him and his siblings in the historical San Pablo area of Tempe, which …

MAY HISTORIC LEGEND: LARRY WILSON

Valley artist Larry Wilson spread his love of the arts across the Phoenix Valley. His devotion to drawing can be especially seen in his beautiful and colorful pictures of the desert landscape.    Looking to enhance his natural talent as an artist, Larry attended Arizona State University, where he studied painting and drawing in the bachelor’s degree program. That art …

MAY LIVING LEGEND: JOAN COOKS

JoAn Cooks puts her whole being into the work and causes that motivate her. It has been a journey of eclectic involvements from community college teaching in the field of textiles, retail management, serving in roles in the African-American community, and serving on the Tempe History Society board.     Myrale JoAn Cooks was born in Mound Bayou, Mississippi, and graduated …

APRIL HISTORICAL LEGEND: TOM, HELEN, & SUSAN HARTER

The Harters of Tempe left an endurable mark in art and historic preservation.    Tom Harter taught art for 38 years at Arizona State University while producing a remarkable body of work as a painter.  His wife, Helen Harter, a member of a Tempe pioneer family, was an accomplished artist, who taught art for decades in Valley public schools. Their …

APRIL LIVING LEGEND: PEN JOHNSON

Pen Johnson has devoted his life to hospitality and civic involvement. Most identified with his 35 years in the hotel lodging industry, Pen has been a major force in establishing Tempe’s tourism footprint. From 1970 to 2000, he was owner-operator and general manager of the iconic Holiday Inn of Tempe at the southeast corner of Rural Road and Apache Boulevard.  …