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Theresa Haley Boardman  (b. 1875, d. 1976)
Theresa Haley Boardman The original Boardman's store was on this corner, at Main
Street and McLane Road in Payson. Some of the original
stones from the store were used to build the wall that is
there now.
Theresa Haley, a practical nurse, married Payson storeowner Bill Boardman in 1912. She moved to Payson and began working with Dr. Christian Risser as his nurse and assistant. For the next forty years, Theresa provided vital medical services in the Payson area. Like many other women in rural Arizona, she worked to sustain her community by contributing her time and skills.

Region: North Central Arizona
Theme: Women in Science, Medicine and Health

Theresa Haley was born in Tombstone. When Theresa moved to Payson, her husband was operating Boardman's Mercantile Store with his brother. She and Bill lived in the store until they were able to buy a house. Dr. Risser also moved to Payson in 1912, and she quickly began working with him. Theresa helped those in town and also traveled to outlying ranches, providing care during crises. People called her for assistance when Dr. Risser was out of town.

When Dr. Risser died in 1933, Theresa became the only medical help available for several years until Payson could entice another doctor to the area. In forty years of nursing, Theresa accepted only $10.00 in total in payment for all of her services; the only reason she accepted this fee was because she treated someone in an industrial accident for which she had to sign a document and take pay.

The Boardman's home was adjacent to what was called Indian Hill, the Tonto Apache settlement in Payson. They had a water pump, which became the source of water for the Apaches. She delivered many Apache babies, and cared for young and old alike during an outbreak of diphtheria when Dr. Risser was away from Payson. Theresa also helped the Apache children to become accepted in the local public schools by giving children breakfast and helping them to take baths before going to school. She was known as "Cressa" by the Apaches.

Theresa Boardman was also a founding member of the Payson Womans [sic] Club in 1921. But her most important work occurred in the medical arena. Professional medical services were hard to find in Payson until the first clinic opened in 1958; Theresa Boardman helped people in need when there were very few medical providers.

Photo Credits:
Theresa Haley Boardman - Courtesy of the Peace-Pyle Collection, Rim Country Museum
Boardman's Store, Main St., Payson - Courtesy of Rim Country Museum

 

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