2012 Grand Canyon History Symposium

Susan Verkamp
Susie Verkamp was born and raised on the South Rim, a circumstance that has marked her for life. She has a BA in English Literature from the University of Arizona and a BS in Environmental Science from The Evergreen State College. Susie has earned a living in a myriad of ways and is currently a health educator. Susie is obsessed with Grand Canyon village history and enjoy researching and writing nonfiction and poetry.

Presentation Abstract...

Peggy Verkamp: A Canyon Life Well-Lived:   Margaret M. “Peggy” Verkamp lived in Grand Canyon village for over five decades and made significant contributions to the business, social, cultural and educational life of the community. She earned a Bachelors degree from NAU in l935 and a Masters from the University of Arizona in l941. Her graduate thesis, “History of Grand Canyon National Park” was the first study of its kind, still referred to by Canyon historians. She moved from Flagstaff to the canyon in l936 when her family took up permanent residence above the family business, Verkamp's Curios. For over 50 years, she worked alongside her brother Jack and nephew Mike managing the store on the rim. In my presentation, I would like to document and acknowledge the many ways my Aunt Peggy enriched the community. She served on the school board for 9 years and was instrumental in getting approval from the state board of education for a four year high school at the Canyon. She work diligently with legendary senator Carl Hayden to obtain funding for the only public high school located within a national park. To my knowledge, this complex saga, spanning several years and requiring navigation through often competing and conflicting jurisdictions, has received scant scholarly attention. Hopefully, family papers and the public record will reveal more of the narrative. Peggy helped establish the village library and served on the library board over the years. She taught Catholic Sunday school and was an ardent supporter of youth activities. In the l960s, she provided both funds and footwork necessary to bring the first television reception to the canyon. Peggy was an accomplished photographer. Her home movies and slides are a rich source of archival information about GC village life. I will accompany my presentation with photographs.