Fayrene Martin moved to Ash Fork from Arkansas. In 1953, she married Lewis Hume, grandson of Thomas Cooper Lewis, one of the town’s first residents. With the railroad and highway bypassing the town and a tragic fire in the 1970s that destroyed most of the old business district, Fayrene saw the need to record and preserve Ash Fork’s history and to revive the community spirit.
The mother of three boys, she spent more than thirty years heavily involved in Ash Fork’s school system. Other activities included 4-H leader and Cub Scout leader. For twenty years she was active in the local Little League Program and today, with grandchildren playing, she’s back working in the program. She has worked with Kids Voting since it began. For six years she supervised a summer youth program. Under Fayrene’s supervision, Ash Fork celebrates Arbor Day planting ash trees and other plants and shrubs. For the 1982 school reunion, she wrote a history of Ash Fork, as the town prepared to celebrate its centennial. She headed the centennial committee, collecting oral histories and photographs from former residents scattered throughout the country. Under the auspices of the Ash Fork Development Association, she got a lease for the property for Centennial Park from the Santa Fe Rail Road. She was then elected to the AFDA board and held the offices of secretary-treasurer and president. Accomplishments of the AFDA during Fayrene’s tenure included expansion of the water system, a community center, library, park, health center, and a program for the beautification of the community.
Raising funds and writing grants has also been a labor of love for this tireless citizen. A recent project was the Ash Fork Commemorative Monument near the site of the old Harvey House. She sought and got donations from all over the state. The monument was dedicated on September 8, 2001. “Whenever a project comes along, I strike out to seek donations,” she says modestly. “These things always seem to fall my way and I’m never told ‘no,’ so that makes it a lot easier.”
In 1998, she sought to designate, as a historic highway, a portion of Route 66 through Ash Fork. It was approved, and today signs in the town commemorate that historic highway’s passage through the town. That same year, she requested the Arizona Department of Transportation Building be placed on the Historic Register. It came on March 4, 1999, and is the only building in Ash Fork on the register to date. The Ash Fork Historical Society was formed in 1997, with Fayrene serving as president since its beginning. She was instrumental in the annual Pioneer Day Celebration, the Ash Fork Post Card, and the Historical Cookbook. Fayrene served six years on the Yavapai County Parks Recreation Board and three years on the Yavapai Community Foundation Committee.
Fayrene’s work for others has not gone unrecognized. In 2000, she received a plaque from the Catholic Diocese of Phoenix in recognition of thirty years of service as a Catechetical Leader. In 2003, she received the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award. When presenting the award, Governor Napolitano read her long list of activities and said, “What do you in your spare time?” The following year, Fayrene was honored with the prestigious Arizona Culturekeeper’s Award from the Arizona Historical Foundation, for nearly a half-century of working to preserve the history and culture of Arizona.
Fayrene’s love for Ash Fork is unconditional love. In her own words: “I really get upset when someone talks in a bad way about Ash Fork. As I see it, this community is what we make it and together we can make a difference. I spearheaded a lot of projects, but I always have my family backing me as well as others who are always there to pitch in. And that is how we got things accomplished.” In 2002, she was succinctly described by Richard Sims, in a column in the Prescott Daily Courier, as the “gracious keeper of the flame of Ash Fork heritage.”
— Marshall Trimble, Official Arizona State Historian