Every year since 1984, an Arizona woman is recognized with the prestigious Sharlot Hall Award for her outstanding contributions to the understanding and awareness of Arizona and its history.
Peggy Williams Bryant, retired reporter and editor with the Tempe Daily News, is being honored for her decades-long career in journalism. Her work left an indelible contribution to the history of Arizona and its small-town communities.
The award presentation, long delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was held Wednesday, December 9, at the Tempe History Museum. It was officiated by Fred W. Veil, former executive director of the Sharlot Hall Museum, and Christine Marin (award recipient for 2018; founder of the Chicano Research Collection and Archives at the Hayden Library and professor emeritus at Arizona State University).
Ms. Bryant’s decades-long career in journalism is reflected in the professionalism, attentiveness, dogged–ness and magnanimity described by those whom she influenced. These include Frank and Irma Connolly, owners and publishers of the Tempe Daily News; J. Howard Pyle and Wesley Bolin, former governors of Arizona; Hon. John Rhodes (HR-1); Hon. Harry Mitchell, eight-term mayor of Tempe, Arizona state senator, and member of the U.S. House of Representatives; and John McCain, congressman and six-term U.S. Senator.
These are only a few of those who helped form Arizona’s story. By association and involvement, Ms. Bryant has played a part in that formation.
She and her family moved to Fort Grant, Arizona, from Texas and ultimately earned her degree in journalism from Arizona State College (now ASU). After brief stints in the early 1950s at other newspapers including the Mesa Tribune and Chandler Arizonan, she stayed at the Tempe Daily News.
She is best known for her prolific writing, her willingness to cover community events, and her unflinching support of local organizations through media exposure and community service.
Ms. Bryant joins a who’s-who of distinguished women that includes Catherine Ellis (2017 honoree) for her four decades of documenting the Mormon influence on Arizona; Nancy Kirkpatrick Wright (2016) for her lifetime of research work as an historian and author; Winifred “Winn” Bundy (2015) of the Singing Wind Bookshop near Benson for her literary preservation; and Sylvia Neely (2014) for her research and preservation.
Additional recipients include: Dr. Reba Wells Grandrud (2013), Jayne Peace Pyle (2012), Heidi Osselaer (2011), Nancy Burgess (2010), and 27 other Sharlot Hall Award honorees.
The Sharlot Hall Award is named in honor of the museum founder Sharlot Mabridth Hall (1870-1943), who achieved fame as a poet, author, activist, and territorial historian – the first woman to hold public office in the Arizona Territory.
The Award has become the pre-eminent counterpart to the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame, and is presented annually to a living Arizona Woman in recognizing her valuable contribution to the understanding and awareness of Arizona and its history.
Watch the award presentation on the Tempe History Museum’s Facebook page: https://fb.watch/2Yk0kBnljV/