The PRT Good Neighbor Award recognizes people who voluntarily build a better community in Canelo, Elgin, Sonoita and Patagonia. We asked our readers to nominate someone they knew who was a ‘good neighbor.’ Winners in both adult and youth divisions were selected. Gift certificates to local restaurants were awarded to both the winners of the contest and to those who nominated them. Thank you for sending in your nominations for the 2022 Good Neighbor Awards. 

Congratulations to this year’s winners! 

Jan Pfitzenmaier 

By Dottie Farrar

Jennifer Riehl wrote: “Jan is such a wonderful person. She is the first to volunteer for whatever her friends and neighbors might need. From arranging meals for those that are sick to driving someone to a doctor’s appointment, she steps up and offers. She is the first to offer help at church and never expects anything in return. Jan is a incredibly Godly woman with a great sense of humor and being around her makes you want to be a better person. Sonoita is a better place because she lives here.”

Jan Pfitzenmaier is a petite, vivacious woman with a lovely smile and eyes which light up when she talks about how much she loves her community, especially the friendliness of the people. She enjoys going to the post office every day to exchange greetings and news with everyone. 

Jan has been the volunteer treasurer and office manager of her church since 2000, and also loves working at the polls. In addition, she loves the natural beauty of this area, and enjoys long walks with her black lab, Ollie. She and her husband, Larry, have sports cars and do a lot driving, exploring the Southwest. Jan and Larry have five grandkids, and love visiting back and forth. 

The Pfitzenmaier family lived in Maryland for many years. Larry was a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Navy when Raytheon offered him a job in Tucson in 2000. Larry accepted the offer, and they needed to consider their living options. The couple wanted to be near a military base, but not right in the city. 

They began exploring the area south of Tucson, and when driving over the pass on State Route 80 and seeing the beautiful Sonoita valley for the first time, they knew they had found the right spot. Renting a casita south of the town center, they built a new house and completed the move from Maryland, happily beginning their commitment and contributions to their new community.

Sylas Lattanzio 

By Dottie Farrar

Anna Coleman wrote: “I would like to nominate Sylas Lattanzio as a Good Neighbor youth. Sylas has been coming to the Patagonia Youth Enrichment Center for the past three years and is always willing to help out with anything needed. He assists with keeping the youth center cleaned up without being asked. Sylas has a positive attitude and works hard to cultivate relationships with his peers. Additionally, Sylas enthusiastically helps with the garden projects around the youth center. It is a pleasure to have Sylas attend the youth center activities.” 

Sylas Lattanzio is a very personable seventh grade student at the Patagonia Middle School. 

“I love living in Patagonia, a small town where I can walk everywhere, be outside as much as I want, and where everyone is friendly,” said Sylas. “Every kid should be as lucky as I am. I am absolutely happy that I don’t live in a city.” 

Like a lot of kids, one of Sylas’s favorite activities is playing video games, especially LARP (Live Action Role Playing). He has written two stories based on the characters he has developed. 

The family has two dogs, three cats, three chickens, and one rooster, and Sylas loves playing with them. 

He has five grown sisters and one brother, whom Sylas visits in Phoenix. 

“He is a great kid, and he’s come a long way”, said Tom Lattanzio, Sylas’s father who adopted him ten years ago. Sylas, with a big smile, nodded his head. 

Susan Lange

By Patra Kelly

Cera Lynn wrote: “I have known Susan Lange for 25 years, and like many others have experienced her selflessness firsthand. A registered nurse specializing in elder care, she has worked professionally in home health and long-term care units and hospice and become a ‘go to’ person when individuals & families need medical attention. Susan continues to spend countless hours volunteering her time and expertise to this community, answering inquiries like: ‘Will you look at my wound?’ ‘Can you check my blood pressure?’ ‘My husband needs hospice.’ ‘I took a bad fall, can you check if I have a concussion?’ ‘My heart is racing, should I go to the ER?’ Community members make the call, and Susan responds.” 

“It is in my DNA, as it is with most nurses, to help and does not seem anything but natural and ‘what to do,’” Susan Lange said. 

Susan came to Patagonia to work in holistic nursing, having read articles by Dr. Gabriel Cousens, at the Tree of Life. “I drove here from San Diego and fell in love with the area. The land felt very peaceful. I was hooked!” she said. 

Susan enjoys the many places to hike, watch birds and animals around Patagonia, and canoeing, kayaking and swimming at Patagonia Lake. She goes to Tucson for theater, good food, and musical events. “On returning to Patagonia, one feels so grateful for little traffic, but also for having cultural events close by,” sha said. 

She feels fortunate to live in a neighborhood with neighbors are interesting to talk to, friendly and kind, offering to care for pets or others when needed. “I grew up in a small town in the midwest, and Patagonia is much like my home town where neighbors ‘watched over’ each other.” 

“Being a good neighbor to me means we are all ‘kin, trying to survive on this beautiful planet,” she said. “That is much easier done by helping – and with the help of – others. Dag Hammarskjold once wrote, ‘Be grateful as your deeds become less and less appreciated with your name, as your feet ever more lightly tread the earth.’ With those thoughts I humbly thank my friend, Cera, for this nomination.”