Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

When Gov. Garrey Carruthers was elected in 1986 he implored Maralyn to be his chief of staff. At first she declined, but finally relented--but only on the condition that she be paid just $1 a year. Throughout his four-year term she kept the post, and with yearly raises was paid a total of $10. Looking back, Carruthers now says: "She stands with the finest of governors, senators, congressmen and all other public servants in terms of contributions to our state."

And yet her work has been done quietly, without drawing attention to herself. "Her efforts have truly come from the heart; nothing is done for the sake of ego," said one supporter. Added another: "In her view, the greatest success is when others receive credit for the accomplishments." Said one of her protégés in state government: "With her management style of 'benign neglect' she was always there, watching, commenting, making sure we didn't fail." And citing the Chinese concept of a "servant leader," another said: "The very highest leader is barely known. When actions are performed without unnecessary speech, the people say, 'We did it ourselves.'"

Story by Richard McCord

Photo © 2006 by Steve Northup.