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Remembering Tommie Rae Cline Martin



Celebrating The Life Of

Tommie Rae Cline Martin

January 11, 1951 - December 10, 2020

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Tommie Rae Cline Martin

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Life Story

Tommie Rae Cline Martin
January 11, 1951 - December 10, 2020

Born the eldest of 4 to Pat and Raymond Cline, Tommie spent virtually her entire life assuming responsibility for others. Always precocious and highly intelligent, the family verbal history is peppered with tales of Tommie’s intelligence, keen wit and attention to those around her. An example would be that when sister Jerrie was born and Tommie was almost two, Jerrie’s feeding regimen involved measuring in ounces how much she was fed. Tommie showed great interest in this as if she might need to know how many ounces to feed her sister if called upon. A favorite story of her father’s was that when visiting Tommie’s grandparents, Walter and Mae Haught, Tommie was discovered eating dog food from Tippy’s food bowl. When the shocked parents asked how much she had eaten she said “Ho, four or five hounces”. She also showed great negotiating skills as a youngster. She was perhaps 4 when her parents went to Strawberry to visit Frank and Ethel Goddard and show off the newest addition to the family, a baby boy. Ethel had a spider monkey that Tommie and Jerrie were very enamored with and they decided they wanted to take the monkey home. It has never been determined whether they didn’t like their little brother or if they just loved the monkey a lot, but the next thing Pat knew is they had traded their brother to Ethel for the monkey and they were unloading the baby’s things from the pickup to make the exchange. Whatever their motive, it is also part of the family history that they were quite upset when Pat didn’t allow the trade. In later years, they would come to realize that they would have rather had the monkey.

But as the eldest, Tommie quickly assumed the mantle of social responsibility for her younger siblings. What to play, when to change games, who to invite over to play with were all in her scope of management. She showed much talent and ingenuity in keeping others busy and out of trouble. After Raymond and Pat started the Payson Water Company when Tommie was about 3 years old, she took interest in the boards that were used as spacers between the layers of water pipe that came to the water company in bundles. She quickly figured out how these cast off boards could be used like what became known as Lincoln Logs, to build buildings. So by the age of six, she was designing and building play houses. She would study an area and begin by laying out the foundation and we younger kids would
then follow her design (and her orders) and raise the walls of whatever she had in her mind. Thus, she oversaw projects from make believe stagecoaches, to three bedroom single story “homes”, to five room two story homes, to spook houses for neighborhood kids to enjoy. When those activities became stale, she would find new things to do to keep things lively. That might have involved a baseball game, roller skating on the front porch, developing and performing a play or any number of things that occurred to her fertile imagination. Again as the eldest, she was the child who did things first. She was the first to go horseback work cattle at about the age of 6, the first to go to school, the first to go hunting, the first to ride a bicycle and all other things kids do. As a consequence it was she who coached and taught the younger kids what she had learned and how to do it. This was clearly the foundation for her position in later years of being someone who we could all turn to when we needed advice or simply needed someone to talk to who would not judge, but would always try to help.

So Tommie pioneered the way for the rest of us. In high school she was on the Pom-Pom line, she was student council president, she was in the national honors society and was class salutatorian. In her spare time she was Payson Rodeo Queen, became a very accomplished clarinet player, learned with sister Jerrie how to ride unicycles, learned how to weave on her grandmother’s loom, and always there was ranch work on her parents’ 7A ranch in Starr Valley. Off to college she went with an astounding array of scholarships and after two years she decided she wanted experiences beyond “school” and she dropped out. Thus began a variety of adventures from working on the staff at the Payson Roundup to a job at the Tonto Natural Bridge Lodge to working at “dude” ranches in Arizona and Wyoming, and always, there was ranch work. Then a conversation with a barber in Payson convinced her that moving beyond being the family barber and pursuing the trade would be worthwhile, so she went off to barber school in Flagstaff. That ushered in a multi-year stint as a popular fixture in the barber shop in Payson, and many people in town began to discover how easy she was to talk to, how grounded her opinions seemed to be and how she would listen and value what every person had to say whether she agreed or not. It was during her time at barber school that she met and fell deeply in love with Ronnie Martin. Martin was a handsome and rakish young man who, although employed as an iron worker, had roots in farming and raising cattle in Buckeye, which provided many common interests for the young couple. Martin’s past was also handy to the family, because there was always ranch work to be done. This courtship culminated in a storied wedding in August of 1972 at the Tonto Natural Bridge with a party that the old timers talked about for years after. The First Dance at the reception was Waltz Across Texas, which became a recurring theme in the couple’s life in years to come. One of the sub-texts of this event was that the wedding rings were forged and crafted from horseshoe nails by Ronnie and Raymond, which were not only beautiful but also much talked about. After selling her interest in the barber shop in Payson, Tommie and Ronnie did move to Texas. Carefree and adventurous, the couple made many memories, but Tommie knew she wanted more. Thus, she went back to college, attending Arizona State University. In 1978 she graduated suma cum laud from the Agriculture division of the Engineering College. Her intention was to be an agriculture attorney and while she was accepted at the University of Arizona for this purpose, she accepted a position at the Valley National Bank in the interim. This led to a position being offered and accepted as Executive Secretary of the Arizona Cattlegrowers Association, which led to cancellation of law school and opened new and exciting horizons. During these years, Tommie and Ronnie took the opportunity to visit Europe with a personally defining side trip into East Germany. The images she took from that experience not only convinced her of the tremendous advantages of being born in America, but helped solidify her opinion that centrally planned economies in socialist governments are soul crushing for people. This philosophy meshed very well in her next professional venture with the Savory Institute in Albuquerque, NM. The “Savory Philosophy” of holistic vision and management of resources for the betterment of all people found an adherent and full time promoter with Tommie. In her professional capacity at this time she became a nationally recognized facilitator of resource management groups in which the guiding principle was that a decision must be a recognizable “win” for everyone involved or it couldn’t be followed. This guideline can be seen in most decisions Tommie made and promoted forever after.

She became an independent consultant utilizing these same skills with many notable achievements. Helping those in agriculture build bridges of understanding with sectors of society with little exposure and relation to that industry became one of her lasting legacies. She left her fingerprints on projects throughout the western United States, southwestern Canada and Northern Mexico but she was always motivated to find innovative ways to manage resources on public lands. To this end she helped sister Jerrie and Jerrie’ husband Tony form a group that made great strides developing unique resource management concepts on public lands. One of her crowning achievements was a cooperative agreement between federal agencies, a mining company and the ranch, which pioneered the concept and methodology of mine tailings reclamation through concentrated animal impact with cattle. During a World Bank project led by Eric Schwennesen in Somalia, Tommie became ill and had to return to the U.S. While never diagnosed with a definite illness she claimed that she was so sick in the Cairo, Egypt airport that she thought she would die there. Although there is no medical connection, this event dovetailed with the onset of her decades long health problems. Declining mobility did not deter her continued interest in governing and resource management for the good of people. She ran for and won the election for Gila County Supervisor in 2004 and took office in January 2005. She held this position the remainder of her life. As supervisor she took seriously the responsibility to find solutions to issues in her District, her county and her state. She once confessed a concern about her future as a politician given her core belief that government should be guided by principle and not politics. To this end, she felt that regardless of party or political orientation every citizen was entitled to respect and consideration. She also advocated tirelessly for all the people in her district and tried to improve opportunities for those she served. No detail was too small for her attention and she often hoped for immediate action and resolution of perceived problems.
One of her first accomplishments was to work to secure a system for providing easy access to water sources for wildfires throughout the county with the water bladders and tanks for helicopter dipping. This system has been credited with putting out many lightning strikes that did not become major fires. Tommie was always quick to give credit to the whole team; however, it would never have begun without her instigation. With the legacy of a pioneer family and corresponding family relatives and relationships throughout the county, Tommie always considered the county as a whole in her decision making. Her support for the fabric  nd fine art community in her district was on par with the highly successful marketing and tourism initiative she championed that she insured accommodates the entire county. During her 16 year tenure she also worked long and hard on two initiatives that she didn’t get to see completed, but will ultimately be finished. One is County Offices that are adequate for the purpose in Northern Gila County, which were progressing to completion at the time of her death. The other is a bridge across Tonto Creek to serve those who become isolated when floodwaters make current roads inaccessible. While not yet under construction, all indications are that this project will yield results. She was also very proud of the work she accomplished in Washington, DC to secure federal funds for rural counties throughout the United States. On the national scene, she served in the Western Interstate Region (WIR) organization of the National Association of Counties (NACo).

Simultaneous to her work as a Supervisor she continued to champion natural resource issues and she was very pleased with the Four Forest Restoration Initiative. This effort created a collaborative group of people to promote innovative policies for sustainable outcomes. Armed with what she called an “abundance” mentality instead of a “scarcity” mentality, she approached this initiative by searching for ways that raw material from the forests could be utilized in a fashion that would improve watershed health and wildlife habitat while reducing the risk of wildfires on the Apache-Sitgreaves, Coconino, Kiabab and Tonto National forests. Although frustrated at times by the slow pace of progress, she was very proud to have been instrumental in the creation of what became known as 4FRI.
Tommie spent virtually her entire life assuming responsibility for others. From her family to her friends to her constituents to her barbershop customers, she cared for and was loved by virtually all. Extremely smart and capable, and with a very quick wit her mind was always engaged in one pursuit or another, which often led to others being adequately “lined out” with something to do. She could be characterized as a musician, a politician, a cowgirl, an equipment operator, a facilitator, or a resource manager and more, all with equal accuracy. Her passing leaves a hole in her family, among her friends and in her community that will be felt for a long time to come. We wish her Godspeed.

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Born the eldest of four to Raymond and Patricia (Haught) Cline, Tommie spent virtually her entire life placing the welfare of others before her own. Tommie graduated from Payson High School in 1968. She attended Northern Arizona University, but paused her college education to gain some life experience which included working on ranches in Wickenburg, AZ and Wyoming, working for the Payson Roundup, managing the Tonto Natural Bridge and attending trade school, earning a barber’s license. Tommie graduated suma cum laude from Arizona State University in 1978, with a degree from the Agriculture Division of the Engineering College. In addition to her formal education, she was a lifelong learner who pursued her varied interests with a passion.

While in barber school, Tommie met and fell deeply in love with Ronnie Martin, a Buckeye, AZ farmer and ironworker. Tommie and Ronnie were married on August 12,1972 at the Tonto Natural Bridge. They lived, worked and traveled extensively throughout the United States and Europe.

Tommie had several careers. She owned and operated the Payson Barber Shop in the early 1970’s. Tommie served as Executive Secretary for the Arizona Cattle Grower’s Association, worked as an associate for the Savory Institute in Albuquerque, NM, and owned a natural resource consulting business working throughout western North America, Mexico and Africa. Tommie was nationally recognized as a facilitator of resource management groups in which the guiding principle was that a decision must be a recognizable ‘win’ for everyone involved or it couldn’t be followed. This guideline can be seen in most decisions Tommie made and/or promoted throughout her life. Tommie was elected as Gila County Supervisor in 2004, taking office in January 2005. This past August, she won her fifth term.


Preceded in death by her parents, Tommie is survived by her husband of 48 years, Ronnie Martin, sister Jerrie (Tony) Tipton, brother Jon (Elizabeth Loney) Cline, sister Jacque (Steve) Sanders, more than a dozen nieces, nephews, and great nieces, a large extended family of cousins and many, many friends. Services are pending. The family is planning for a virtual memorial service to go live on January 25th, along with an in-person celebration of life later in 2021.

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In lieu of flowers:

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Tommie’s memory to any non-profit or charity in the Payson-Pine area. She was an advocate for children, the arts, pets- particularly cats, the outdoors including rodeo and competition shooting, the homeless and the Tonto Natural Bridge, to name just a few.




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