This is the first of a series introducing the writers who regularly contribute articles and columns to the Patagonia Regional Times. Look for more profiles in upcoming issues.

Bob Brandt

A farm boy from Lancaster County, PA, after jitterbugging my way through high school,I earned B.S. and M.Ed. degrees at West Chester State College (WCSC) and the University of Pittsburgh, respectively. Never a standout athlete, I nonetheless lettered in soccer, wrestling, gymnastics and tennis. I also wrote for my college newspaper and served as its editor-in-chief my senior year. My most notable achievement in college, however, may be my selection as Miss Villanova while a freshman at WCSC.

After graduate school, I taught health and physical education and coached soccer and gymnastics at the college level before starting my public health career as the executive director of an Upstate New York chapter of what is currently the American Lung Association. I worked in public health for the balance of my career, in D.C. and Maryland where I spent the first 10 years as a public health educator before shifting to the management of public mental health programs for the next 20 years. Along the way, I played lead roles in creating two federally-funded community health centers and a community mental health center. 

After retiring, my wife, Anne Townsend, and I sold our home, traveled in our motorhome for eighteen months, then settled down near Gettysburg, PA where I worked as a counselor at the county jail and volunteered at a maximum security prison.

In 2015, Anne and I moved to Patagonia where we had spent several winters volunteering at Sonoita Creek State Natural Area. Still unable to fully embrace retirement, I love my part-time work for Wildlife Corridors, LLC. 

I enjoy writing, hiking, dancing and torturing listeners with my harmonica playing. Having met on the dance floor, Anne and I plan to dance until the Twelfth of Never.

Jo Dean

I moved to Elgin in 2015 with my husband of 51 years, Lance, from Elko/Spring Creek, NV where we had lived for 28 years. We came to Arizona in 1970 for graduate school at U of A for Lance and for me to work as a Registered Nurse at TMC. I worked in the first pediatrics ICU at TMC.

During the early 1970s we lived and worked on the YWCA Rancho Los Cerros Ranch Camp and were proactive in the designation of what is now Catalina State Park. Lance’s mining jobs then took us to seven of the western states, during which time we had three children. After 17 moves, we landed in Elko, NV. 

In 1987, I started the Northeastern Wildlife Rehabilitation program. Over the next 28 years, we treated hundreds of injured eagles, hawks, owls, various birds, reptiles, and mammals. I found my nursing skills, specifically in pediatrics, were beneficial in learning to treat injured and diseased wildlife. 

I managed to take on every volunteer position available for any of our kids’ activities. Later I took a job at the local Great Basin Community College Certified Nursing Assistant program, as the director and an instructor for the four satellite campuses’ in Nevada. 

My early years living on my grandparents’ farm in Indiana and being raised in Colorado with horses, camping, hiking, and fishing gave me a great appreciation and environmental awareness for the earth. Today I enjoy my retirement with my husband, children, grandchildren, and friends. Living in Elgin with horses, dogs, cats, chickens, bicycle riding, traveling and writing for the PRT make life perfect. 

Harold Meckler

I’m a first generation American. My mother was born in China, while my father spent his first few years in what is now Belarus. Happenstance and fate brought them together in the farmlands of New Jersey just after WWII, and that is where I grew up dreaming of becoming the next Mickey Mantle. Unfortunately, my desire to roam center field in Yankee Stadium was derailed by a deficit in talent. 

I continue to love the game, but my focus has long been on the helping professions. I graduated from Rutgers University in 1977 and worked with incarcerated youth until moving with my family to Arizona in 1991. 

On a visit a few years before, we fell in love with the mountains and decided to give up summers at the beach for the chance to hike year-round. I earned a master’s degree in Social Work from ASU in 1995 and began a career assisting children and families. I retired in 2018 after spending a few years as a case manager for special needs students. 

My wife, Nanette, and I were married in 1976. We have two children – both teachers – and six grandchildren. We moved to Patagonia about eight years ago, wanting to return to the open spaces we enjoyed as kids. 

My interest in astronomy stems from an uncle who planted the seed early in my life. The stars have always served as an escape, as well as a vehicle for introspection. I have published several books. The most recent, Chasing Light, and Darkness, is available through Amazon.

Pat McNamara

The daughter of a second grade school teacher and a college music professor, I was born and raised in central Illinois. In this flat land of corn, soybeans and humidity, I found solace in horses…oh lordy, how I loved them. I was a barn rat at the college stables. Finally acquiring my very own horse at 14, I kept him at the county fairgrounds with the standardbred harness race horses. There I picked up more horse experience driving these racers to exercise them for their owners. I also worked and showed quarter horses for another owner and barrel raced mine. After high school, a brief, unsuccessful stint in college, a starter marriage (also unsuccessful) and hitchhiking in southern California in 1968 (peace, Dude) I found myself back home to regroup. During another attempt at college (music major this time to please my Dad) I met future husband, Dave. College attendance was a cover. I just really wanted another husband. I went with husband and new baby daughter to a Marine Air Base where I put my horse experience to work and became the base riding instructor. After the Marines, we settled in Wisconsin (nicer than central Illinois) where we raised our kids, now totaling three, and I trained and showed Welsh ponies. 

I wound up settling (after waiting on tables, delivering mail as a rural carrier and teaching riding again) on becoming a veterinary technician. That was my main career for the next 20 years or so. After the kids were raised, grandkids babysat for, until they got older, we retired to Elgin. Now with a mule and mammoth donkeys for riding and time to pursue amateur artwork and play my flute from time to time (pre-COVID) with a Patagonia music group (I am the daughter of a music professor, after all) life is good. Retirement was what I was looking for all along…since being ‘independently wealthy’ was never in the cards.