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Buzz Aldrin greets purchasers of his book, Reaching for the Moon, at a book signing at Changing Hands bookstore in Tempe.  6-05

Aldrin, Buzz

(Edwin Eugene "Buzz" Aldrin, Jr., 1930.01.20-    )  NASA Astronaut, moon walker, Ph. D, Colonel, USAF Ret.

Trained for moon walk at the Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater, Sunset Crater and the Lowell Observatory

Married in Phoenix

In preparation for exploration of the moon, Buzz Aldrin and the other Apollo astronauts received hands-on geography instruction which included field trips to the Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater, and Sunset Crater in Arizona.  They visited the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff where they got their first close-up view of the moon through the telescope purchased by its founder Percival Lowell in 1896.

Percival Lowell purchased the 24-inch Clark refracting telescope for $20,000 in 1896 and installed it at his Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff.  Lowell was interested in exploring the possibility of life on Mars.  Seventy years later, the Clark telescope was used to create base drawings for an Air Force moon mapping project.  The Apollo astronauts would peer through the telescope to get their first good views of the moon a few years after that.  5-05

Buzz's Arizona training came to fruition on July 20, 1969 when  Aldrin and mission command pilot Neil Armstrong made the first manned landing on the moon.  

On Valentine's Day 1988, a planeload of party-goers gathered at the $27-million Western Savings Corporate Center in Phoenix.  Along with local residents, they were there to witness and celebrate the marriage of 58 year old Buzz Aldrin to the fifty-something Lois Driggs Cannon.

The event was not without unscheduled entertainment.  As arriving matron made her way through the large imposing entrance, she made a wrong turn and found herself waist deep in a reflecting pool.

As the matron dried, guests were seated.  As violinists played "Stairway to the Stars," Buzz and Lois descended Italian marble staircases taking their places on a landing where Morman elder Widtsoe Shumway, a high school friend of Lois, performed the nuptials.

Buzz Aldrin on the moon, photographed by Neil Armstrong.  NASA photo.  7-69

Longtime Phoenix residents would be quite familiar with the Driggs family name.  Lois' father Douglas Driggs, 86 at the time of the wedding, was the mayor of Phoenix from 1970 to 1974, and a member of the family that founded, owned and operated the $6-billion savings and loan institution.

The Driggs family came to Arizona in 1921 after trading everything they owned--a bank, drugstore, hotel, and wheat farm in Driggs, Idaho--for a section of cotton land in Maricopa County.  Their timing was unfortunate since when their crop came in cotton prices plummeted and they were forced to take jobs selling building and loan certificates.  In 1929, the Driggs family pooled $5,000 to found the Western Building and Loan Association, which became Western Savings.

Even as the nuptials were taking place, Western Savings was taking a fall far worse than that experienced by the water-soaked matron.  Western had shared a position on the list of the nation's 100 largest savings and loans--MeraBank was number 27 on the list, Western came in at 37th, Great American was 67th, and Pima was 82nd.  But in 1989, Western Savings moved into second place--not for its size, but for the amount of its losses, with a whopping $1.06 billion net deficit, following a substantial but smaller loss the previous year.  The venerable savings and loan was headed for takeover by the Resolution Trust Corporation in the federal depositor bailout process.  The failure of Western Savings and nearly every other savings and loan in the nation were the result the Reagan era savings and loan modifications which forced them to attempt to seek riskier investments.

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