Southern Utah News Articles
Area Icons - Paula Zutes
This feature will focus on important citizens who have shaped the southern Utah/northern Arizona area.
By Dixie Brunner
What’s not to love about Paula? The classy 88 year-old, has made her mark in this area. Think Crescent Moon, dedication to community enhancement, support of the business community and all churches, acceptance and warmth to newcomers...the list goes on and on!
Paula Campbell was born in 1925 to parents Margaret and William in upstate New York, the youngest of six- three boys and three girls. Her father was a paper maker at Armstrong Cork. After the stock market crash, the family moved to a farm in Fulton. “That was a bad era,” said Zutes. “We never had anything, but at least we ate.”
Attending a country schoolhouse for her elementary education, she walked to school. There was one teacher for 12 students. “I skipped the third grade and graduated at 16,” Zutes recalls. “There were 19 who graduated from the Central Square Hills High School in New York.”
While she had many career tries-waitress, nurse, teacher, secretary and telephone operator, she had one main aspiration. “I wanted to be a reporter at the New York Times. Fortunately, I got over that!”
“My first presidential vote was when Tom Dewey ran against Harry Truman,” remembered Zutes.
In the early days as now, she was extremely practical. She valued quality over trend. “My friends would buy the latest style dress for $6 or $7, I would save up to buy one of more quality for $25.”
Life was going well for young Paula. She was engaged to be married, and working at a lovely restaurant. “That’s when my boss said, ‘Paula I want you to meet this nice Greek boy.’ Chris Zutes was good-looking, but so arrogant. He said he would never marry an American. I asked him why. He said American girls wouldn’t make good wives.”
Paula married Chris Zutes two years later in 1950. Their daughter Mary was born soon thereafter, and three other children followed. Chris graduated from University of Rochester, and became a chemical engineer for Eastman Kodak. He climbed the corporate ladder and later transferred to California.
Paula’s life was good. She had a loving husband, great family, and financial security. But as most of us know, life takes some twists and turns.
“When a man reaches 40, they get in a midlife crisis,” said Zutes. “Chris’ midlife crisis involved getting an airplane.” Chris Zutes died in an airplane crash in the early 70s, along with their eight year-old daughter Christine. The wreckage wasn’t found for ten months.
“I didn’t want to be poor Paula, that lost her husband and daughter,” commented Zutes. She left Sonorra, California and later went to Sedona, Arizona. “I got Mary married and Chris buried.”
It was in Sedona where she met the very spiritual Nick Duncan, who owned the enormous Crescent Moon Ranch. Nick had married a Kellogg (wife), and was wealthy. “Some thought I married him for the money. My daughter Spring made me marry him,” siad Zutes.
Paula and Nick Duncan drove through Kanab on their way to Taos, N.M. (Nick had been through before.) “I got the signs from God,” said Paula. “We stayed at a motel here, and I knew. At that time, I had read an article concerning Dr. Symington and mind dynamics. It’s up to you what happens in your mind. I thought ‘this must mean something’. We should move here.”
“We came to Kanab in 1980, we bought the property and moved in 1981,” recalled Zutes. The couple built Paula’s Gold Dust Restaurant, and became contributing and valued members of the community. “That went well and we had a great time, running it for a long time. He (Nick) was happier in Kanab, than he ever had been.”
The Crescent Moon Theater in Kanab is a community gem from Paula Zutes, to honor her late second husband Nick Duncan. The theater, an incredible asset to the community, just celebrated ten years. It has become a renowned home for local plays and talent, movies, and a great venue for big time headliners. “I built it as a tribute to Nick.”
Paula is Kanab’s best cheerleader! “I love this place,” commented Paula. “I feel that good people are attracted here.”
As for words of wisdom, Zutes said that her philosophy is fairly simple. “Laugh, live and love,” she stressed. “But laugh more, and don’t take life too serious!”
The good people attracted to this area are blessed to have Paula Zutes in our midst!