Bob and Nancy Hutson

bob and nancy hutsonBob and Nancy Hutson were involved with Spirit in the Desert from its earliest beginnings. Bob was serving as pastor of Christ the Lord Lutheran Church in Carefree when he received a call in 1993 from Bishop Howard Wennes who wanted Bob’s help finding a facility for a retreat center.

Bishop Wennes informed Bob that a Lutheran layman, Mac Estrem, of Sun City, Arizona and Richfield, Minnesota wanted to donate money to purchase a facility for an adult retreat center. Bob took them on a tour and showed them the Carefree Inn, which was available, but the facility was too large. Next, Bob found a Realtor who had access to the prominent building on the hill in the center of Carefree that had been a restaurant and an inn. Bob said, “When Mr. Estrem walked into the facility and saw that it had 16 furnished sleeping rooms with fireplaces and balconies, a kitchen and meeting rooms, Mr. Estrem’s eye’s lit up, and he negotiated a purchase price with the owners.”

Nancy and Bob’s home and church are a couple of miles from what became Spirit in the Desert Retreat Center, giving them an opportunity to help the new organization become a viable place for renewal and transformation. Bob served as Chairman of the Board for six years and Nancy participated in meetings and retreats for members of their congregation. Nancy’s retired parents from Wisconsin also served as retreat center live-in hosts for several years during the busy winter months.

The retreats at Spirit in the Desert provided Bob, and many pastors, with continuing education for ministry. Prior to retiring five years ago, Bob also attended retreats focused on transitioning to retirement and finding a productive third chapter of life after retirement.

Nancy, a social worker, has been a board member of Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest. She is always looking for opportunities for collaboration between the two organizations and with area churches.

Bob and Nancy continue to be emotionally and spiritually connected to Spirit in the Desert, as well as financially supportive. They know it is a gracious place of hospitality and spiritual renewal, because, as Bob said, “All are hard-wired for spirituality.”