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Alumni Happenings - June 2005
Grand County High School


Mike and Linda Bynum,
GCHS Class of 1965
by Jeff Richards

Mike and Linda Bynum, graduates of Grand County High School’s Class of 1965, have been married since midway through their junior year of high school. Linda’s family, the Tangrens, had lived in the Moab area for generations, while Mike’s family had to moved Moab twice – once when he was in the second grade and again several years later.

Although Mike’s family moved away to Farmington, N.M. during his high school years, Mike and Linda – close friends throughout grade school – continued to see each other. Midway through her junior year, Linda found out she was pregnant. She and Mike were married soon afterward, on New Year’s Eve 1963. Their oldest son Michael was born the following July.

“We weren’t sure whether I was going to be allowed to attend school while pregnant,” Linda recalls. “But the teachers and community were very supportive during my pregnancy and also during our senior year, after the baby was born.”

Linda, who was a cheerleader at GCHS, had enough credits to just attend school for half a day during her senior year. “My grandmother Jane Eberle would watch the baby in the mornings while I was at school until lunchtime,” Linda recalls.

Mike says that he and Linda are indebted to a number of Moab people who helped them out as young parents still in high school, including Don and Jo Ann Knowles and Ray Tibbetts. “Both of us have an appreciation for the community, for all the help and support they gave to us,” he said.

Mike was a standout athlete at GCHS, lettering in football each year and taking the team to state as the Red Devils’ quarterback his sophomore and senior seasons. He also took the state championship in wrestling, winning the 165-lb. weight class in his junior year.

It was Mike’s athletic involvement that eventually landed him a college scholarship, at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Colo. GCHS head football coach Glen Richeson was instrumental in helping him get the scholarship, Mike recalls. Mike played for CU as a safety for three years, 1966-68, and later went on to law school.

He and Linda raised their family in the Boulder area while Mike practiced business law and served as a prosecuting attorney. Still, they maintained their close ties to the Moab area, visiting friends and family in town frequently and owning a business in Moab (the Best Western Canyonlands motel) since 1978.

In 2002, Mike retired from the legal profession, and he and Linda moved back to Moab, where they make their home at the shady west end of Pear Tree Lane. In 2002, they turned the Knowles’ former hardware store building into the popular Zax Pizza restaurant, located at 96 South Main.

“I’d been involved in restaurants all my life. I waited tables, washed dishes,” recalls Mike, noting that his family had operated a restaurant called the Westerner Grill (at 331 North Main, where Action Shots is now located) during Moab’s uranium boom days of the 1950s. Although Mike and Linda have been part owners of other restaurant ventures, Zax is the first restaurant they’ve been directly involved as operators.

Although they liked living in Colorado, Linda says that she and Mike appreciate the “slowed-down lifestyle” that Moab has to offer. “We love camping, hiking, exploring and the red rocks,” she notes. “Moab has always been a home to us.”

Mike and Linda recently traveled to the Pacific Northwest to see their youngest son Zachary, 22, graduate in business from the University of Puget Sound. They said they enjoyed being together again with all four sons on that occasion. Oldest son Michael, 40, works as a construction manager in Hawaii. Kelly, 25, lives with his wife Barbara and two children in Grand Junction, Colo., where Kelly is an orthopedic surgeon. Casey, 28, attended Dartmouth University and now works as an engineer. Mike and Linda say they always tried to encourage independence and self-confidence in their boys as they were growing up.

“When we went through school with Michael, we were the youngest parents, but by the time we got to Zachary we were the oldest,” says Mike, noting the 18-year difference in the boys’ ages.

Mike and Linda’s most memorable teachers at GCHS include Richeson, who was not only Mike’s football coach, but also was Linda’s 7th-grade health teacher. Mike also fondly recalls Gene Leonard (math and wrestling), while Linda remembers Wendell Bowthorpe (drama, choir, and dance) as being one of her most influential teachers.

Linda went to nursing school in Colorado and became an LPN. After working at a Boulder area hospital, she then worked as a preschool teacher and teen mentor at a high school in Boulder that had a teen parenting center on site. “I guess I kind of came full circle there,” she says.

Both Mike and Linda remain avid supporters of GCHS activities, particularly football and school plays. Mike helps coach the Red Devil football team, and sees that banners supporting the school’s teams are prominently displayed at his businesses. He and Linda both said they hope to help other people get started, much in the same way they were helped over 40 years ago, in essence returning the favor by passing it on.

 
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