Verde Canyon Railroad is pleased to announce a great honor awarded by the State of Arizona. Train attendant, Fermin Estrada, a fan favorite on the train for more than a decade, has been honored with the Arizona Governor’s 2013 Spirit of Service tourism award in the Individual category. This well-deserved accolade was earned by Mr. Estrada for his many years of outstanding customer service. At the Arizona Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Tucson on July 11, Fermin was respected with a standing ovation as he was presented the Spirit of Service award.
Fermin Estrada was born in Jerome, Arizona, in 1942 and spent his early years in the historic town of Centerville which was later incorporated into Clarkdale. After graduating in 1960 from Jerome’s Mingus Union High School, Fermin worked for the Phoenix Cement Plant (now Salt River Materials) for 37 years. He has been married to Bea Alvarez, a member of the Verde Canyon pioneer Alvarez family, since 1966. Together they raised four sons and are grandparents to five.
After retiring from the cement plant in 2002, Fermin began working as a first-class attendant for Verde Canyon Railroad. He now hosts guests in the train’s luxury-class caboose. One on one, Fermin is a favorite of the passengers with his pleasant nature, gentle voice and dapper style. Whether he is serving a party of six in the exclusive caboose or waiting on a group of 34 in first-class, he projects the same charm, interest and commitment to enhancing each passenger’s experience in Arizona. His extensive knowledge of Verde Valley wildlife, riparian and desert plant species, railroad operations and regional history adds richly to every visitor’s train ride. Fermin is generous with his memories of life in Clarkdale, Jerome and time spent at the Alvarez Ranch. He considers the Verde Canyon to be his “back yard” due to the many years he spent working cattle, branding and delivering calves, shoeing horses and trail riding in Sycamore Canyon. Eras long past live on through his recollections shared with railroad passengers. His tales of the Canyon from the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s, including stories of hippies, hermits and hardscrabble ranch life enhance the experience for everyone.
Fermin Estrada is regularly requested by repeat customers, frequently receives written compliments, and he is often mentioned by name in online reviews. He is called upon to be the face of Verde Canyon Railroad for interviews with writers, videographers and journalists from all over the world. Fermin Estrada is the epitome of what an ambassador for Arizona should be. With his welcoming charm, thoughtful service, well-dressed appearance, generous history and positive attitude, he paints a wonderful impression of our state, especially for those visiting Arizona for the first time.
Congratulations to our very own local hero, Fermin Estrada, for exemplifying the true Spirit of Service!