When the Western Postal History Museum was established in 1960, one of its founding objectives was to organize an independent sponsoring society to finance and staff the museum. After a series of meetings between Albert Evans, Arthur Springer, Bill Alexander, and Omega Williamson, it was decided to call the organization “Arizona Philatelic Rangers”. The name was derived from the famous 26 men who were the Arizona Rangers dedicated to restoration of law and order in territorial Arizona. A Constitution and by-laws were adopted at the end of 1960.
The four founders at that meeting became the executive board of the Arizona Philatelic Rangers with the addition of Walter A. Benz of New York who had been a special advisor and supporter in many matters relative to the museum.
With the consent of Pima County Sheriff Waldon V. Burr, it was agreed that members of the Rangers would be appointed either sheriff or deputy sheriff and would receive appropriate badges.
Dr. Ray Brandes was made Honorary Ranger Sheriff #1 for his untiring efforts as co-founder of the museum and supportive advisor. At the end of that first year, the Arizona Philatelic Rangers grew to 26 members, equaling the number of original Arizona Rangers. Soon Rangers were enlisting from all over the United States, Mexico, Canada, and overseas.
The museum prospered and, as Ranger membership and financial support grew, projects were added to the museum’s activities. From 1961 to 1969, the Rangers raised over $120,000 from contributions and stamps donated by Rangers and philatelists all over the country.
At the outset, the Rangers and the museum were one and the same. The accomplishments of the museum were also the successes of the Rangers. There’s no doubt that the early efforts of the Rangers’ support and fundraising activities were the most significant element in the growth, stability and success of the Western Postal History Museum.
Museum co-founder and Arizona Philatelic Ranger #1 Ray Brandes recounted the story about the founding of the Arizona Philatelic Rangers:
A major rifle manufacturer was running an advertisement in the national magazines in 1960 showing a partial version of a picture of Arizona Rangers. The caption read, “Why doesn’t one of these Texas Rangers have our rifle?” Ray, as assistant director of the Arizona Historical Society, recognized the picture as that of the Arizona Rangers and telephoned the company to point out their mistake. The company, red faced, turned their blunder into a major publicity event. They ran a new advertisement apologizing for misidentifying the Arizona Rangers as the Texas Rangers. They also had an “Arizona Apology Day” complete with festivities, hanging the corporate president in effigy on the grounds of the state capitol building, and a spectacular party in Scottsdale. Both Ray and Bill Alexander attended the party.
While all this was going on, Bill was sitting there drawing a picture of a little star – the badge of the Arizona Rangers. He said, ‘You know, I think what I’d like to do is create an organization called the Arizona Philatelic Rangers.’ That’s how the Rangers began.
Originally printed in the Fall 1990 Heliograph