HEBER CITY — The last thing Patricia Thompson thought she'd be is a trailblazer, and she's not particularly impressed even if she is.
All she knew before becoming the first woman on the Heber City Council in the 111-year history of the town was that Heber had become a very special place to her. She wanted to do anything she could to keep it that way.
"I was shocked they picked me. My mouth fell open, and all I could say was 'uh-uh,' " said Thompson, 59, a five-year Heber resident who was among 10 replacement candidates considered by the council and Mayor Lynn Adams to complete the term of late councilman Bob Morris, who died May 29.
City recorder Paulette Thurber confirmed that Thompson is the first woman to serve on the council since Heber incorporated as a town in August 1889.
"I thought they'd give it to Sherm Christen because he'd been on the planning commission so long, and that's a real good training ground, I believe, for the council," Thompson said.
But Thompson also had been serving on the city's planning commission for three months since David Phillips had moved from that body to the council.
By then, Thompson had been haunting council and commission meetings to learn as much as she could about her community.
"They said, 'Oh, she's already here so much, let's just give the (commission) spot to her,' " Thompson said.
The burst of community involvement was a relatively new thing for Thompson.
"I've never gotten into this kind of thing until I moved here," she said. "But this place is so beautiful and the people are just so nice, it just made me want to help maintain the special spirit that is here."
Thompson had a mini-glance at the valley 30 years ago, she said, driving through the Heber area. Though she was smitten, life was way too busy to stop, she says.
For that matter, she'd never really stopped anywhere for very long.
"I've been in all 50 states and lived in 17 of them," Thompson said. "Twelve schools before I graduated high school in Phoenix."
Dad was something of a rolling stone.
"He had a lot of jobs," Thompson said. "Candy salesman when I was born. Truck driver when my next sister was born. Electronics repair when my next sister came along. Then a farmer," Thompson said.
She feels the wanderings have given her a unique perspective on community-building.
"I've lived in the four corners of the country and I've seen good things cities do and the messes they get themselves into," Thompson said.
Not surprisingly, local women have rallied round her.
"I've probably had 50 women tell me, 'Oh, good, we have someone to represent our views,' " Thompson said. "I'm being treated like I'm some kind of celebrity.
"But I don't think in terms of celebrity. And I don't really think in terms of gender."
Many men also have congratulated her. Among them, Sherm Christen.
"He came over to the house the other night and said he thought I was the best person for the job. That really meant a lot to me," Thompson said.