Strong Woman of Mesquite
– Bunny Wiseman
Bunny Wiseman has moved from place to place most of her life. She began life in Brigham City, Utah, and then at the tender age of two weeks her military family pulled up stakes and moved to the great country of Newfoundland. After two years, the family, with Bunny and her younger brother, were again transferred.
The next fourteen years were spent moving about every two years. From the east coast to the west coast, she traveled all over the country.
One of the interesting places Bunny lived was Anchorage Alaska. While there, she completed first and second grade, and became a pretty good figure skater on a homemade skating rink outside her back door.
If you ask Bunny what she wanted to do as a child, she will tell you she yearned to be an artist. She had a Katy Keene Paper Doll book, and Katy was her constant companion. Bunny would draw and color clothes on scraps of paper for Katy, and they were stored and treasured in a small cardboard box. She was a quiet, insecure child making average grades after learning that being above or below normal brought unwanted attention.
When she was fourteen years old, Bunny’s father died from lung cancer. The family then moved to a small town in Missouri, and two years later her mother died. At age sixteen, a young man came along who was willing to take not only a new wife, but her younger brother as well, so she married him. Since he was in the Army, the new little family headed off to Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Never living in one place long enough to actually focus on a career, Bunny managed to take and finish a few college courses. Along the way, three babies arrived, two boys, Tony and Tracy, and their sister, Leslie in the middle. During the next twenty-two years, the family lived in many interesting places, with one long tour of three years in Panama.
The travel ended when Bunny landed in Salt Lake City, and she and her husband divorced. During that time, Bunny worked at a car dealership as a salesperson. Luckily, the management of the store saw something in her and offered to send her to school to become a finance manager. It turned out to be a job filled with many hard knocks, but with three children at home, the money was greatly needed. She did what she had to do in order to survive, in spite of a lack of education, no real job experience, and a rather introverted personality.
Fast forward, and along comes Mike, the best desk manager in the business, as well being a kind and loving person. She had found her hero and they were soon married. Mike had custody of his two children, and with Bunny’s three children, they blended a large and interesting family. However, with both of them working at the car dealership, putting in long hours, and dealing with occasionally conflicting schedules, they lived like ships passing in the night. But one of them was always home with the kids.
In 1999, Bunny saw an ad on TV for the CasaBlanca Resort and Casino in Mesquite. Mike, being an avid golfer, agreed to spend Three Glorious Days and Two Nights in Mesquite. While driving around town that weekend, they found and bought a house in Sunset Greens. The weather was over one hundred degrees that day, but after years of shoveling snow around hundreds of cars in Salt Lake, they fell in love with the southern Nevada weather. Bunny spent the next few years driving back and forth from Salt Lake to the new house.
In 2007, it was finally time to sell the big house in Salt Lake, along with everything in it, and make the move to Mesquite. Mike was on the golf course immediately, and Bunny quickly became involved in advocating for all of the area’s amazing arts organizations.
The first day Bunny arrived in Mesquite, she went into the Mesquite Fine Arts Gallery where she met Gail Ashdown. She told Gail what she had been doing for the past seventeen years, and Gail picked up the phone and called Kathleen Birkholz of the Virgin Valley Artist Association, VVAA. Bunny was hired on the spot as treasurer for the VVAA. She later served a term as VVAA President. She feels her greatest accomplishment during the ten years she served on the VVAA board was building the much needed classroom located beside the Fine Arts Gallery. VVAA is now able to offer classes for all Mesquite residents at very reasonable prices.
Bunny also became involved with the Virgin Valley Theatre Group as president and participating in all aspects of running a theater, being on stage, and even handling some of the technical aspects of putting on a show.
The Chamber of Commerce was looking for some fresh, new ideas, so Jim Wilson took Bunny aside to tell her she was needed on the board. In order to fully participate in Chamber activities and duties, Bunny needed to be on the executive committee, so she was appointed as secretary to the board.
There was work to be done advocating for the arts in Mesquite. Greater Mesquite Arts Foundation, GMAF, works tirelessly to raise funds to support all of the arts organizations in Mesquite. In 2015, she was the Hearts for the Arts honoree. Bunny has risen through the ranks of GMAF, and is currently the president of the organization. She is the facilitator of the Arts Roundtable where presidents of all the arts associated organizations gather monthly to work together to help make Mesquite a well-rounded community. Through an agreement with the city, she is also the manager of the Mesquite Community Theatre, along with Bob Nelson.
In 2011, Jean Watkins flattered Bunny and convinced her to run for Ms. Senior Mesquite. This was a major transition in her life. Standing on stage, holding a microphone, dancing, and painting a picture in front of the audience brought her out of her inclination to hide in the shadows. She was runner-up in that pageant, and went on to hold positions with the pageant as Contestant Mum and Assistant Director of the pageants. She has also been a judge for the Miss Mesquite Pageant.
Mesquite Showgirls came along as an exciting new nonprofit organization with fun girls and feathers. Dress-up combined with providing wonderful services for organizations in Mesquite has been one of the highlights of Bunny’s life. You can find the Showgirls at business openings, Chamber events, and other community affairs .
Along the way, Bunny has served on several committees at the city level. She is a member of the Mesquite Master Plan, Bicycle Mesquite, and Mesquite Reads, working with Gerri Chasko and the Eureka Casino. She served on the committee to write and submit a city charter to the state legislature. She even entered the race for City Council. She has been honored as the Distinguished Citizen of the Year for 2016, and was the Grand Marshall for the Mesquite Days Parade this year.
Current passions in Bunny’s life include pickleball at the Mesquite Recreation Center, as well as her art. Her favorite time of the week is Monday afternoon when she teaches her drawing class at the Mesquite Arts Center. She claims many of her students are better artists than she is, but she admits that is partly because she is a pretty good teacher.
Bunny has spoken many times to service groups explaining the value of the arts in Mesquite. She has worked tirelessly for all of the arts in Mesquite. She says she works more hours volunteering than she did when she was employed. She is convinced that all forms of art are major building blocks necessary to make and keep our community alive and well.
It would take a lot to keep up with Bunny and all her accomplishments. She has done so much for Mesquite, and is always willing to do more. We think of her as our very own Energizer Bunny.