|Julia Randall was born in Denver, Colorado and moved to Gila County with her family in 1901. She completed elementary school in Payson and a few high school classes before moving to Flagstaff, where she graduated from high school and then went on to Arizona State Normal School. When she began teaching in Payson in 1924, there were four grades in one room. As the town grew, so did the school; eventually there was only one grade in each room in the building called the Rock School. She lived nearby, in the home her father built in 1909, and she never learned to drive. She continued teaching in the Payson school system until 1969.
In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Julia cared for her extended family. When her twin-grand-nephews, Ron and Don Gibson, were left without parents at the age of two, she raised them as her own. Not only did she take in her nephews, but she often provided food and clothing for needy students.
Miss Julia was very involved in the community as well. She was a Charter member of the Payson Womans [sic] Club, a founding member of the Payson Presbyterian Church, where she taught Sunday School for many years, and a Charter member of the Daughters of Gila County Pioneers. She was named Gila County Pioneer Woman of the Year in 1988.
Julia loved music and often sang at weddings and funerals. She also made sure that she passed along her love of music to her students by teaching them to make music using everything from sticks to tambourines.
Julia Randall is remembered by many people in Payson because of her long-term position in the schools, but she was not really an exception. Instead she is exemplary of the type of women found in this fairly out-of-the-way community. In this ranching, sawmill town, women brought culture and education to the community and its children. Collectively, these active and dedicated women got the job done.
The school where Julia Randal taught has been renamed the Julia Randall School and is now the Payson Unified School District Administrative Office. It is located at 902 W. Main Street in Payson.
Julia Viola Randall - Courtesy of Peace-Pyle Collection, Rim Country Museum
Julia Randall School - Courtesy of Rim Country Museum