The plan was to only stay in Flagstaff for a couple of years.
Bill McGrath had been working in the district management office for JCPenney in Phoenix when he was asked to become the manager of the Flagstaff Mall store in 1996. It was supposed to be a short-term posting, but Bill truly enjoyed the position and the people he worked with and his family loved living in northern Arizona.
Or as Bill put it: “It’s hard to beat a town like Flagstaff if you can put up with the cold and snow.”
During their 25 years here, the only house they have ever lived in has been the one on Twisted Limb Way in Continental.
“One weekend, I was driving around and saw a sign on the corner,” Bill remembered. “I loved the looks of the house. I also loved the cul-de-sac; my kids were in 5th and 8th grade and it was great not having to worry about traffic.”
Technically, the house wasn’t what the McGraths told their realtor to look for. They had asked for a 4-bedroom, 3-bath house, similar to what they had had in Phoenix. The man who built the house on Twisted Limb had sacrificed having a 4th bedroom to make sure that he, his wife and two daughters all had their own bathrooms instead. Which made it a perfect fit for the McGraths, who also have two daughters.
There were other attractions as well, Bill said.
For an avid golfer, living at Continental had natural advantages. But it also was only about three blocks from Foxglenn Park, where his daughter played soccer. And he appreciated having a compliance officer that would guarantee that neighborhoods would be kept up to a minimum standard.
Not long after moving here, the McGraths had become fixtures in the community.
It was MaryBeth who first got involved with Continental’s programs. An aide at Knoles Elementary, she was transferred by the Flagstaff Unified School District to The Continental Project. The Project is a program co-founded by FUSD and Continental to help students with special learning needs gain the work adjustment and interpersonal skills critical for job retention.
Meanwhile, Bill was serving on many nonprofit boards. In the past 25 years, he has been on the boards of Junior Achievement, the American Red Cross, United Way of Northern Arizona, the Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce and YMCA, where he was instrumental in planning golf tournaments that raised significant funds for that organization in its early days.
In 2008, then GM Dave Evans asked Bill if he would like to run for the Board of Directors at Continental. Since that time, Bill has been a board member with the exception of one year. He will end his fourth three-year term later this year.
Looking back at his tenure on the board, Bill thinks he contributed by trying to diffuse anger and disagreement on controversial issues that have faced Continental Country Club over the years. He also said he is particularly proud of his work on the Golf Committee and the Flagstaff Golf Maintenance Company (FGMC) that shares responsibility for both the Continental public course and the Aspen Valley private course.
“Serving as head of the Golf Committee and concurrent FGMC roles – this past year as President of the FGMC board – while golf revenues and operations improved, was something I feel good about,” he said.
Despite retiring from JCPenney several years ago, Bill has kept busy – mostly with his family. His daughter Colleen and her husband Zak co-own Tanning Time in town and, after several years in Phoenix, his youngest daughter Megan, son-in-law Mitch and their two children have relocated to Flagstaff.
“Our numerous monthly trips to Phoenix to help by grandparent-sitting have come to an end,” he said. “We are now only driving 15 minutes to the west side of town, or entertaining them here. The sleepovers are terrific!”
Add to that his work on the board, Golf Committee and FGMC and Bill’s days are packed.
“Plus I’m playing golf twice a week when I can,” he added with a smile. “It keeps me off the streets and out of trouble!”