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Maie Bartlett Heard


Inducted in 1982


Maie Bartlett Heard was a collector. She was born on June 11, 1868, in Chicago, and educated at the Loring School and Dearborn Seminary, a finishing school. When she was 14, her mother died, and Maie assumed the responsibility of overseeing the household and caring for three younger children. She met her future husband, Dwight B. Heard, on a trip to Paris with her father, and the young couple was married on August10, 1893.


Two years later when Dwight became seriously ill with a chest ailment, his Chicago doctors advised him to quit the cold and seek a warmer climate. So, Maie and Dwight loaded some possessions in a wagon, bought a team of horses and headed for the Pacific Coast. They got as far as Phoenix, decided this was home, and stayed. Dwight regained his health, and he became an active businessman in the young community. In 1912 he bought the Arizona Republican newspaper, now the Arizona Republic, and published it until his death in 1929.


The Heards started their collection of Indian Art with a Pima basket. From there it was a short step to pottery in varying shapes, rugs, and prehistoric Indian artifacts, all to decorate their ranch house on the western outskirts of Phoenix, around present day 51st Avenue and McDowell Road.The collection grew and grew, becoming so extensive that the only logical way to clean out some closets at home was to build a larger house, which they did about 1900. Finally, when that house, too, was burgeoning with treasures, they built and endowed a museum.


Maie was the circulating librarian who forded the Salt River on horseback to take books to ranch children; she was the philanthropist who donated the money to build a gymnasium at the YWCA. But as busy as she was, her main interest centered on her family's collection of primitive art, including wonderful Hohokam artifacts and native Arizona arts and crafts. It would have been easy to slack off, to lay down the lamp of civic and social work when her husband died, just months before the museum they had both worked to establish was due to open. But Maie continued on, working with the Phoenix Little Theater, donating land for the Phoenix Civic Center, and giving time to youth.


The museum was established to preserve artifacts, to encourage public appreciation of primitive works and culture, and to promote archaeological research and investigation. In subsequent years, Mrs. Heard cared for people in big, public ways such as founding the Welfare League (the forerunner to the present day United Fund), and in small, private ways such as extending a mortgage for a deserving family, establishing a firewood dispensary for the poor, or comforting a soldier's widow.


In May 1948 she was honored by the Phoenix Rotary Club for her service to youth, and the same year she was named Woman of the Year by Beta Sigma Phi, a business women's sorority. She was 83 years old when she died in Phoenix in the Good Samaritan Hospital on March 14, 1951, the 22nd anniversary of her husband's death.

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