Biff and Frank Lamma at Sunnyside, AZ, 1983.  Photo courtesy

The Patagonia Museum has an undated scrapbook titled “Pioneer Park Names of Pioneers and Donors of Trees.” It includes biographies of individuals or families who were honored as Patagonia pioneers by the planting of a tree. The trees were most likely planted in 1966 when the Southern Pacific Railroad released the right of way for the railroad track, between McKeown Ave. and SR82, to the town of Patagonia. The town, the Patagonia Woman’s Club, and the Patagonia-Sonoita Rotary Club collaborated to create the park area. [Arizona Daily Star, 3/6/1966].

Though the stories of many of the pioneers honored have been covered in previous Glimpses articles, others remain to be explored, including Rosenda De Avila Lamma and Joseph Park Lamma. Their son Frank, a key Patagonia leader, dedicated a tree to them. 

Joseph P. Lamma was born in in Philadelphia, PA in 1857 to Irish immigrant parents, Chittick and Mary Jane Lamma. In 1872 he and his brother Frank moved to Nebraska as members of the Philadelphia-Nebraska Colony “to secure homes for each head of a family and for each single man.” [Dawson County Pioneer, 4/8/1927]. In 1884 Joe married Mary Ann “Mamie” McMahan and they had two daughters, Mamie and Irene. Joe had various occupations in Nebraska, including deputy sheriff. The 1910 U.S. Census lists the family as living in Denver, CO; Joe’s occupation was as a laborer doing “street work.” 

In 1910 Joe moved to Arizona, leaving Mamie and their daughters behind. He worked for the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad, which was bought by the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1924.

In 1917 Joe married Rosenda de Avila, born in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. The couple raised Rosenda’s son Frank and their daughter Josephine “Tootsie” who was born in 1918 in Patagonia. Joe ran unsuccessfully as the Republican candidate for Patagonia Justice of the Peace in 1924. He died in 1936 and Rosenda died in 1944.

Frank Lamma was born in Hermosillo, Mexico in 1912. He and his mother moved to Patagonia in 1913. After graduating from Patagonia High School, Frank worked for, and eventually became a partner with, Ray “Buck” Blabon who owned Patagonia’s Eastside Garage. In 1933 Joe married Roberta “Biff” Nye (see March 2023 Glimpses article). Biff noted about their Patagonia home: “My father-in-law won the original three-room dwelling in a poker game. He hauled it down from Hardshell mine and we newlyweds moved in.” [Tucson Citizen, 5/19/1994]. The couple had one daughter, Rozenda, born in 1955.

Frank was very active in the Nogales Masonic lodge, receiving the 33rd degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in 1965. [Arizona Daily Star, 10/20/1965]. In 1948 he was appointed as one of the five aldermen for the newly incorporated city of Patagonia. [Tucson Citizen, 2/17/1948]. Frank became Patagonia’s second mayor in 1950, a position he held for several years. [Arizona Republic, 3/30/1951].

In the early 1950s Frank partnered with Bob Haverty to buy the Southern Pacific Railroad depot building in Patagonia to use as a warehouse, and they served as “unofficial station agents” until the line was abandoned in 1962. 

As a member of the Patagonia-Sonoita Rotary Frank supported the club’s project to move the depot building 45 feet east to make way for Highway 82 improvements planned by the Arizona Department of Transportation. [Arizona Republic, 7/2/1964]. 

Frank was a member of the Patagonia Volunteer Fire Department and served as chief. He “made his living fixing gas lines and selling houses, hardware and windmills in Patagonia.” [Arizona Republic, 8/11/1985]. Frank died in 1986 and Biff died in 2007.