Funeral services will be held Saturday for Alvah ‘Vay’ Fenn, longtime resident and a San Pedro Valley Patriarch.
A viewing will begin at 10 a.m., an hour prior to the service, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 481 N. Pomerene Rd., in Benson, just outside Pomerene, the tiny community he cherished and called home.
Born Alvay Forster Fenn in Mesa, Ariz., March 23, 1927 to Alvah and Carmen Forster Fenn, Vay died Aug. 10. He was 92.
Vay, as he was affectionately known in the San Pedro Valley, was an avid historian, and was active for several decades in the communities that comprise the San Pedro Valley.
“Vay was deeply rooted in the San Pedro Valley,” states an excerpt from the obituary [See Pg. 3]. He was the 24th Benson Town Marshal from 1953-1955, and owned San Pedro Sand and Rock operating in Benson from 1953-1968. The business still exists, with brother Don Fenn, proprietor.
History and preservation were Vay’s passion. He was active along those endeavors throughout his life, stopping into the News-Sun frequently, though not as much in recent years, to talk history. He had a penchant for facts, dates and events, able to rattle off a litany of people and events, in detail, which helped shape the valley.
He was proud of having been one of the movers and shakers in the community having worked and served in several capacities.
Benson Mayor Toney King lamented the community’s loss.
“Mr. Vay Fenn was deeply rooted in Benson and the San Pedro Valley area…” the mayor offered. “...Vay had a passion for history and he was quite a storyteller with great memories of the San Pedro Valley. He leaves behind a very large family that loved him very much. He will be missed by so many and leaves quite a legacy.”
He also left an imprint on Benson Historical Museum.
”Vay Fenn was a very instrumental part of the Benson Museum,” said Judy Lee, Benson Historical Museum director. “He hosted and organized events, provided artifacts and historical information. He gave talks to adults and students. He was also a dear, personal friend. I had known him since I was 10. Vay leaves a very large void in the area for a myriad of reasons,” she said.
According to his obituary, Vay “... was a man of many talents and occupations including real estate, farmer, pilot, heavy equipment operator, prospector, law enforcement, silversmith, tanner, pipeline welder, antique collector, bee keeper, parachutist, mechanic, and molasses maker. He also built the house that he was currently living in out of the approximately 7,500 adobe block that he had made... Vay had many friends. He accomplished many things during his life. He will be deeply missed.”
He was honored in 2003 as the Benson Butterfield Parade Grand Marshal, where event organizers marveled at his passion for community and its “rightful” when placed in historical context. He was a near lifelong resident of Pomerene.
“I’ve never officially lived in Benson... but Benson is my town,” he said in a 2003 feature interview with the News-Sun.