ELOY — Richard “Dick” Myers, 80, loved history.
His longtime efforts to preserve the stories, legends, lore and artifacts of Eloy and the surrounding area earned him the honorary title of “area historian” and made him the go-to source for many historical questions.
Myers, a lifelong resident of the area who died April 1, was the president of the Santa Cruz Valley Historic Museum and was the driving force behind efforts to restore the building in which the museum is housed, the 1930s mission-style Toltec Schoolhouse. As well as the museum, the building also houses the Sunland Visitor Center and the Eloy Chamber of Commerce.
His efforts earned him several awards and accolades. Most recently, earlier this year, he was awarded the Individual Award of Excellence from the Museum Association of Arizona, which is given to an individual who has exhibited leadership qualities by achieving excellence in their work in a museum, including areas of collection, preservation, research, interpretation and education.
“Dick Myers had been working towards this award for almost 20 years,” a press release from MAA said when the award was announced. “When the Santa Cruz Valley Historic Museum reopened this year in the fully refurbished Old Toltec Elementary School in Eloy, it was a result of his tireless leadership.”
Myers told PinalCentral in 2020 that he embarked on the restoration project years ago because his wife, her aunt, his aunt and his kids all attended the Toltec school at some point.
His goal, he said in 2020, was to make the restored building a place of learning for anyone interested in the history of Eloy and Pinal County.
While he’s best known for his work to preserve the Toltec Schoolhouse, Myers was also an avid hiker who, for years, could often be spotted hiking Casa Grande Mountain. His knowledge of the mountain earned him the nickname “Casa Grande Mountain resident historian.”
“Casa Grande Mountain was and is a focal point of the Casa Grande Valley, from the time of human occupation to present,” he told PinalCentral in 2017. “It has served as a line-of-sight reference for the Native Americans, Spanish explorers, early pioneers and gold rush prospectors returning empty handed from the California Gold Rush.”
Myers enjoyed sharing his knowledge of local history with others. As well as offering tours and information at the Sunland Visitor Center, he often spoke with PinalCentral reporters about area history. For a time, he hosted a radio program, “Mysteries, Myths and Facts with Dick Myers” on radio station KURE 106.1 FM.
Before retiring years ago, Myers had worked for more than 30 years as a welder for El Paso Natural Gas.
Myers was a site steward for Arizona State Parks and held positions in various community organizations, including a Pinal County museum group.