Man who traded city for country receives Axtell Walking Stick
FISHLAKE NATIONAL FOREST—A Salt Lake City native who moved to Axtell with his wife 11 years ago and since then has become deeply involved in the community, received the Axtell Walking Stick on Monday.
The honor went to Douglas Michael McMahon, 75. In accepting it, he said much of the credit should go to his wife, Judy.
McMann said moving from Salt Lake City to Axtell was one of the best things that could have happened to him and his wife.
“It’s been a complete change of life, but it’s the best blessing that ever could have been bestowed,” he told the crowd of about 100 gathered for the Axtell Pioneer Day camp out and picnic at the Anthony Flats Campground in Willow Creek Canyon.
Picnic fare included sloppy joes, potato and pasta salad, root beer brewed on site and watermelon.
There was also a pie-eating contest; discharge of a candy cannon that sent dozens of children scrambling for tootsie rolls; and a game in which a wheel was spun, the wheel stopped on a color, and a child got to select a prize out of a container of the same color.
Finally, there was the traditional auction where girls from the Axtell LDS Ward Young Women brought items they had baked or made, ranging from baked goods to artwork. Then Bruce King of Axtell auctioned off the items for amounts ranging from $25 to $150. Proceeds will go to support youth activities in the ward.
The tribute to McMahon was presented by Reed Roberts of Centerfield, who works with McMahon in the American Legion.
McMahon was born in Salt Lake City in 1942. He attended West High School and then went to work for Utah-Idaho School Supply, where he met his wife. They were married in 1961, 56 years ago.
Five years later, he was drafted for service in Vietnam. McMahon told Roberts his year there “was not the best year of his life.”
In 1970, he went into business as a siding contractor and operated the business until 2004. He retired completely in July 2005.
“That’s when they (Mike and Judy) started looking for a way to get out of the city,” Roberts said. They found a home in Axtell, and “they’ve fit into this small town very well.”
McMahon is active in the Gunnison Valley American Legion and his wife in the American Legion Auxiliary. “It’s rare when a veteran passes that he’s not in the cemetery to honor the deceased veteran.”
McMahon has also served as president of the Gunnison Valley senior citizen organization. When the new Gunnison City Hall was built, he played a key role in making sure space for the seniors, including a quilting room, was included in the plans.
He cares for the lawn at the Axtell Post Office building. Roberts said when he drives by, he often sees McMahon’s trailer there and McMahon mowing the grass with his riding mower.
And, Roberts said, because McMahon had the expertise the unincorporated town needed, he was elected to the board of the Axtell Special Service District, which runs the water system, and has served more than four years.