Tempe Historical Society Lunch Talks


The Tempe Historical Society is proud to present a free lunchtime lecture series commemorating the development of Tempe and the state of Arizona. Lunch Talks feature various speakers from around the state.

Bring your lunch and enjoy these presentations monthly from October - November, 2015 and January - April, 2016. Coffee will be provided. 


Wed., October 14; 11:30 a.m. Speaker - Dr. Grady Gammage, Jr.

Grady Gammage, Jr., could claim to have been the youngest kid on campus at Tempe's institution of higher learning in the earliest years of his life. His very first home was the old college president's house on campus where his parents - then-Arizona State College President Grady Gammage and wife Kathryn - lived. The senior Gammage took the school from Teacher's College to University status in his 33 years at its helm. Grady, Jr. attended local schools, graduating from Tempe High School; earned a B.A. at Occidental College and a J.D. degree at Stanford University in 1976. Carrying out his belief that "life is more interesting if you do lots of different things," he is a practicing lawyer, a Senior Fellow at ASU's Morrison Institute for Public Policy, a teacher at ASU's College of Law and the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, and a “sometimes” real estate developer who built a Tempe urban mixed-use project that won three architectural awards. He remains a voice on Arizona water issues after serving for 12 years on the Central Arizona Project Board of Directors, including a stint as president. Historic preservation is also one of his areas of expertise.

Dr. Grady Gammage, Jr. with his parents
on ASU campus

Wed., November 11; 11:30 a.m. Speaker - Marcie Elias Gorman
Marcie Gorman spent her growing-up years in a little single-story adobe home beside a then-uncovered canal along old E. Eighth St., also known as Creamery Rd. The old house at 927 E. Eighth St. in the Sotello Addition, known today as the Elias-Rodriguez House, is a National Historic Place and a Tempe Historic Property. It was built in the late 1800's by Tucson native Vicente Elias for his wife Inez and family. The home acquired the Rodriguez part of its current name in later years after the Elias’ daughter, Irene, and her husband Reynaldo Rodriguez moved in to care for her mother when Marcie was a youngster. Mrs. Gorman, who now has 12 grandsons and 18 great-grandsons, lived most of her life in Tempe and in the Elias-Rodriguez house until she was 25. She attended Tempe’s old 10th Street Grammar School and graduated from Tempe High School in 1952. Twice widowed, Mrs. Gorman worked for a time at Valley National Bank’s Phoenix home office. She’ll be speaking on Veterans Day and as part of her reminiscences, she will pay tribute to those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Elias Rodriguez House


Wed., January 13; 11:30 a.m.             Speaker - Christine Kajikawa Wilkinson
One of the first women in the country to be a senior vice-president and secretary of a major university, ASU Alumni Association president, Christine Kajikawa Wilkinson, was one of the state’s 2012 Centennial Legacy Project’s 48 Most Intriguing Women and Valley Leadership’s 2009 Woman of the Year. Born in Utah, she grew up in Tempe as daughter of the late Bill and Marge Kajikawa. Her father was a 40-year legendary multi-sports coach at ASU; her mother, a Tempe First National Bank officer, was legendary for her community involvement and hospitality. Like her mother, Christine is an active volunteer, and like her father she is an ASU legend, having served in multiple positions - twice as athletic director.

Bill Kajikawa

Wed., February 10; 11:30 a.m.           Speaker - Cliff Jones

Hanging around fire stations and making rounds with Tempe Volunteer Firefighters as he was growing up paid off for young Cliff Jones. His interest and experiences as a youth led to his being hired by the Tempe Fire Department in 1971- without having had to go through a formal recruit-training academy. In February 1988, he became the third Fire Chief in Tempe Fire Department history, a post he held for 22 years. Under his watch, the department became the first to be internationally accredited by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI). He later served as a commissioner and, from 2000-2003 as chairman of CFAI. Jones has received numerous honors over years including the Ray Picard Award for “superior leadership and outstanding contribution,” the Arizona Fire Chiefs Association Lifetime Achievement Award and been named a Center for Public Safety Excellence Chief Fire Officers Designee.

Cliff Jones

Wed., March 9; 11:30 a.m.       Speaker - Larry Mishler & Peggy Bryant

Peggy Bryant and Larry Mishler lives have crossed paths over the years. Both got early experience in their crafts, a few years apart, on ASU's State Press newspaper. In 1953, Peggy began her career in community newspapers as reporter/woman's page editor for the Mesa Daily Tribune - and at the same time, Larry was honing his photography passion working in his father's camera shop where Peggy occasionally dropped of photo plates for developing. In 1959, Peggy began a 22-year affiliation with the Tempe Daily News as variously report, editor and managing editor. In 1963, Larry Mishler began a 10-year TDN affiliation as a process cameraman/stripper for the commercial printing department and a sports photographer. After retiring from the newspaper business, Peggy became Tempe Elementary School District's community relations director and Larry was head of the District's print shop. Both have written about and photographed Tempe over the years - including its celebrations.

Tempe Daily News Office

Wed., April 13; 11:30 a.m.   Speaker - Ron Pies

In his 30 years with Tempe’s Parks and Recreation and Community Services programs before retiring in 1998, Ron Pies developed most of the recreation and leisure time opportunities that Tempeans still enjoy today. In the process, he earned himself and his department numerous awards - among them two National Gold Medals for Parks and Recreation Management excellence, and a National Aquatics Gold Medal. Ron also earned an Arizona P&R Association’s Distinguished Life Member Award and, in 2000, was named by that association one of its first “Five Leisure Legends.” Hired as Tempe P&R Director in 1969 and named Community Services Director in 1984, Ron started the development of the 125-acre Tempe Kiwanis Park, developed the first computerized park maintenance tracking program in the nation, wrote and received the first grant of $100,000 from the State of Arizona for the Tempe Rio Salado Project, as well as began negotiations to bring the California Angels to Tempe for spring training.

Ron Pies


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