Preserving Sedona’s Natural
By Shira J. Boss '93
When Paul Chevalier ’60 and his wife, Maggie, were
ready to retire, they hit the road in search of a new nesting spot.
“We looked around for the prettiest place in the 48
states,” Chevalier says. The winner, where they relocated
from Los Angeles four years ago, was Sedona, Ariz.
The stunning town about 90 miles north of Phoenix, set at an
elevation of 4,500 feet amidst unusual red rock formations, is home
to an eclectic group of 10,000 residents — many of them
artists and retirees, with a few famous people, too — and
hosts many more tourists every year. The area is known for its pure
air, hiking trails, and what many say is some sort of special
energy emanating from the red rocks.
“We have cowboys walking around, and people who wish they
were cowboys. Cowboy hats are big here,” Chevalier says.
Chevalier, who also holds degrees from the Law School and the
Business School, serves as chairman of Sedona’s Arts and
Cultural Commission, one of four commissions appointed by the city
council. One program he has supported is the town’s
“Art in the Classrooms” initiative, which brings local
artists together with teachers to create interactive
For a recent unit on the Roaring ’20s, in addition to
reading The Great Gatsby and studying the history of the
era, high school students learned the Charleston, made stained
glass windows, listened to period jazz music and ate foods like
Jell-O that were invented at the time.
The commission also has passed an ordinance requiring developers
to donate money to a fund for public art displays.
Chevalier is involved in local debates surrounding growth versus
environmental preservation in Sedona, which is no longer the
well-kept secret it once was. “We want smart growth,”
he says, explaining that the town is growing at about 4 percent per
year and houses are getting larger and larger. Sedona is debating
whether to widen its main street. “Do we focus more on
getting the traffic up here, or scenic beauty?” Chevalier
asks. He votes for scenic beauty.
Before retirement, Chevalier worked in labor relations in the
retail sector for 25 years. He last served as senior vice president
of employee relations for Federated Department Stores.