Sometimes you just stand there exhausted and say to God, "OK. How are you going to get me out of this one? Where is the secret trap door or the hidden parachute?"

I recalled a moment like that that I had long ago when I read in the Star that Mary Schuh had passed.

Mary died of cancer on Aug. 25. She was 77.

I did not know Mary well, yet she helped solve one of the most difficult challenges I have ever faced.

Mary was a community activist who had never held a political office until late 1999. That was a tumultuous year during which the Amphitheater Public Schools governing board was being challenged and three members were being recalled for their efforts to ban the "citizens' call to the audience" at meetings.

A small group of brave and dedicated folks brought together people from all parts of the district to gather enough signatures to get the recall to a vote.

Then came the challenging part. Who would have the courage to run against these school board members? More importantly, who would run against them and have the courage to do what needed to be done to change the culture at Amphi?

So there I stood on the porch of a home at the base of the Tortolita Mountains as the fate of the recall and the election lay in the balance. We had selected two candidates and were left wondering who would be the third. I fully understood that not having a third candidate would lessen the effects of the efforts of the recall members.

I was hot and tired when I looked up at the sky and asked God for that message. OK, you brought me all this way, I thought. Out loud I asked, "How are you going to get me out of this one?"

The answer came loud and clear a couple of days later. Mary was going to step up not just once, but twice. You see, the efforts of the recall group, Parents as Children's Advocates, included having to have two separate elections nine months apart.

But to folks like Mary, it was well worth it. She brought representation to the southern part of the district and more credibility to the recall efforts. She would not be afraid to speak the truth and to back it up.

She and I shared a pet peeve about the "manipulations" of the board meetings to try and discourage citizens who wanted to speak on an issue. I attended one such regular board meeting that lasted three days!

Mary Schuh will be missed. Those that give it all, all the time, always are.

Enjoy the journey,


On StarNet: Read Bob Oro's recent columns at

Celebration of life

Mary Schuh's family is planning a celebration of life. Friends and colleagues may contact Michael Schuh at for details.

E-mail Bob Oro at