Edward Joseph Birmingham, Apacheland owner 1993-2004
Ed and his wife, Sue Stewart Birmingham, were the owners of Apacheland Movie Ranch, a well-know western movie and TV location since the mid l950s. They bought the property 25 years ago, restored it and increased its size, and it continued as movie set, but also an active western town until fire razed in on Valentine’s Day, 2004.
He was honorably discharged from the United States Navy in l958 where he served as a Corpsman, assigned to the Marines. He was a graduate of North Phoenix High School, Phoenix College and the University of Arizona, Tucson.
His business was varied and included employment in New York City, on Wall Street with Merrill Lynch, partnership with Squirt Bottling Company and later with Master Craft Home Builders and ownership of Storage Solution, all in the Phoenix market.
His happiest days were spent at Apacheland where he became involved in many civic activities in the Apache Junction/Gold Canyon communities. He was an active member of the Board of Directors of the Superstition Mountain Historical Society and for the last several years chaired the committee which put on a fund raising golf Tournament on behalf of the Superstition Mountain Museum.
People came from far and wide during the holiday seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas to see the fabulous decorations that were icing to the cake that was Apacheland. Ed not only oversaw the placement of lights and other decorations (which took more than a month to set up) he could be found scaling ladders and walking building roof tops as he directed the work, undertaking much of the work himself.
He was founder of the social club called the Paladin Club (named after the TV series which was filmed at Apacheland) where members mostly from the Gold Canyon area, would meet on Thursday night, smoke cigars, enjoy libations in Old West surroundings and discuss the affairs of the community solving many of the problems that faced the growing area starting when the population of the “town” numbered in the hundreds and which now numbers more than 8000.
Birmingham was unofficial Marshal of Apacheland and he and his six Deputy Marshals kept the peace and the merriment and the fun going. The Superstition Mountain Museum celebrates the history of the western town and the Birmingham’s generosity for donating the two surviving buildings of the great fire of 2004….the Audie Murphy Barn and the Elvis Memorial Chapel…both of which continue to attract visitors from all over the world who have seen many of films which originated there.
Ed is survived by his wife, Sue Birmingham, a son Thomas and a daughter Cecily Coburn, four step children; Robert A., Stewart J, R. Matlock Schilleman and Mary Sue Simmons; also six grandchildren and 9 great grand children.
Memorial service will be held at the Elvis Presley chapel at the Superstition Mountain Museum at Elvis Memorial Chapel on Sunday.