Barbara Zurcher
Volunteer

   
The Zurcher family moved to New River in 1962, renting a tiny redwood house from the Hepburns.  Eventually buying that home and the acreage with a well in what is now known as the Cholla Patch.  All five children at one time or another attended New River Elementary, which was a four-classroom building that served first through eighth grades.  The library served as the lunchroom.  Grades were grouped two to a classroom, which was great because if you were ahead in your grade, you could benefit from the next grade teaching going on in the same room.  Or if you were behind, the previous grade lessons helped get you caught up. 
​​The Zurchers and their cousins and friends all grew up swimming in the cattle tanks or the swimming hole at the river.  Hiking all the hills, horseback riding, practicing survival skills, hunting and general self-entertainment of every kind.  Time spent indoors was usually spent reading or watching the Wallace & Ladmo show for entertainment. 
 
Barbara and her sister, Dawn, were members of Rural Metro, the first fire department that served New River in the early 80s.  Both were certified EMTs, however Barbara was not cut out for this line of work; Dawn stuck with it for 20 years, later serving the Payson area and becoming the first woman to win the award of Firefighter of the Year in 1999. 
 
Barbara’s first son was born in the house at the Cholla Patch with the help of a midwife.  Her second son was supposed to be born there as well, but a power outage changed those plans.  A third son was born at home in Phoenix.  Barbara raised her sons in Phoenix until all left home to build their lives elsewhere. 
 
After decades of working in law firms as a paralegal and as Business Manager of a charter school, Barbara moved home to New River to build a house on property owned by her father, Bob Zurcher, who passed away in 2010.  She is currently self-employed and works for several lawyers, a couple of non-profits and the same charter school (Tempe Prep Academy).  One of her dearest friends and a former employer is former Mayor of Tempe, Hugh Hallman.  Through working with Mr. Hallman, she learned many of the inner workings of city government and the thought that goes into making decisions that affect constituents. 
 
“I know change happens.  I understand that nothing can remain static in this world.  However, I do hope that growth and change can be managed to have the lowest impact on the current lifestyle that residents who live here cherish.  It can be done by a dedication to purpose and the determination of residents to join forces whenever necessary.”
 
Barbara was instrumental in stopping a county project that intended to widen New River Road to 4 lanes and demolish 9 family homes in the process.