Wednesday, May 02, 2012

The Passing of Pastor Arthur Achesay Guenther

May 2, 2012

   Spent most of the morning changing my editorial in the next issue to honor the late Pastor Arther Alchesay Guenther. I met the man who shook the hand of the legendary Apache leader Alchesay in June of 2006, when Scott Stone invited me up to the White Mountains to see Guenther's incredible collection of Apache artifacts and photos.

Here's part of my comments:

I was doing research on the infamous scout Mickey Free, when Scott contacted me and told me I needed to come up to the White Mountains to meet the man who knew the legendary Apache leader Alchesay AND Mickey Free’s granddaughter. On June 22, 2006 I traveled up to Pinetop, Arizona to meet Lutheran Pastor A.A. Guenther. It was a thrill for myself and, later, Paul Hutton, to meet Pastor Guenther, not only because of his extensive knowledge of Apache history and culture (he speaks fluent Apache) but because of his special relationship with Alchesay (at right, also see pages 29,33).

When Pastor Guenther said to me, “You know Mickey Free carried a big knife,” it had gravitas. You may have noticed that is exactly how we portrayed him in our graphic cinema presentation.

Hutton and I ended up publishing a 20-page excerpt of the Mickey Free story in the December 2009 issue of True West (plus several other subsequent two-page Graphic Novel installments)

Pastor Guenther passed away on May 1, 2012. To think that The Top Secret Writer (Hutton) and I shook the hand of the man who shook the hand of Alchesay is what living hstory is all about.

Scott Stone summed up our feelings: “We lost one of Arizona’s great pioneers and a valued friend today.  He contributed much to his chosen people of the White Mountain Apache Tribe. He possessed leadership both on and off the reservation in a gentle, kind and caring way. We will all miss seeing his ever smiling face.”

Here's a photo Scott Stone took of me meeting Pastor Guenther:

And, of course, I gave the Guenther's a shout-out when we published the excerpt on Mickey Free. Here is a character in the story, Pastor Guenther:

The funeral for Pastor Guenther will be this Saturday at 9 a.m. at the White River Lutheran Church with a graveside service at noon in Lakeside.

"A fascinating gentleman and a historic treasure trove. Glad we met him."

—Paul Andrew Hutton

And I would do well to honor the guy who built my chicken coop—J.D. who has since moved to Utah and left us all poorer because of it.

While I was looking for my photos of Pastor Guenther I ran across this majestic scene of Elephant Butte:

Which in a way is a tribute to J.D. Nelson in itself.

"The first and great commandment is, Don't let them scare you."

—Elmer Davis