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Alumni Happenings - January 2008
Grand County High School


Jared and Liz Shumway, GCHS alumni

by Jeff Richards

Grand County High School graduates Liz Backus Shumway and Jared Shumway don’t have any children in high school yet, but they’re already bracing themselves for the next couple decades.

The Shumways are the parents of 11 children (six boys and five girls), ranging in age from 13 to 1. They are: Trevin, 13; Calen, 12; Benni, 11; Joseph, 9; Sidney, 8; Jacob, 7; Alexandra, 5; Richard, 4; Jessica, 3; Nicole, 2; and Andrea, 1. The oldest seven kids are currently enrolled in Grand County schools, in kindergarten through 8th grade. Oldest son Trevin will be a freshman at GCHS next year.

“Our life is never going to slow down,” says Liz, whose family recently moved into a new seven-bedroom home in Spanish Valley.

Jared, a member of the GCHS Class of 1989, is the third of nine children of Chris and the late Dick Shumway. All of Jared’s brothers and sisters graduated from GCHS with the exception of youngest sibling Dani, who graduated from Monticello High. Three of Jared’s siblings (Dirk Shumway, Charla Saunders, and Sam Sheets) reside in the Moab area, along with their families.

Liz, a member of the GCHS Class of 1992, is the youngest of five children of longtime Moab residents Delano and Mary Backus, who are currently living in Mexico but are scheduled to return to Moab in May. One of Liz’s brothers still lives in Moab: Brian Backus and his wife Kelsie.

After graduating from high school, Jared served a two-year LDS church mission in Vancouver, Canada, then returned home to Moab in February 1992. Shortly thereafter, he asked Liz (then a high school senior) out on a date.

“He asked me out to a Valentines dance, but I already had a date, so he asked me out again right after that,” recalls Liz.

Neither Liz nor Jared clearly remembers the exact details of their first date, but they seem to think it included a drive into Arches National Park. “Then, on our second date, I’m pretty sure we went horseback riding in the mountains,” Liz recalls.

After a few months of dating, Jared proposed in July of 1992, a few weeks after Liz finished high school. They were married in September, six weeks after their engagement.

The newlyweds made Cedar City their home, spending six years there while attending school at Southern Utah University. Liz attended SUU for one and a half years, then stopped to raise her children, a job she’s been doing ever since. Meantime, Jared completed his masters degree in accounting from SUU. After leaving Cedar City, the family spent another couple of years in Hurricane, Utah, before moving back to Moab in 2001.

Jared says his accounting degree provided him with practical knowledge that he uses in his business. “I use it all the time,” he says. “I just can’t sit behind a desk all day.”

Liz says she never envisioned having so many children. “Especially not one every year. If I’d have known that then, I think I would have run,” she notes with a laugh.

Both Liz and Jared retain their youthful-looking appearance, often eliciting expressions of disbelief when telling people how large their family is. “A lot of people will see me with my youngest baby and ask if it’s my first,” says Liz. “They don’t believe me when I tell them she’s No. 11.”

Jared has worked in a variety of different jobs over the years, including subcontracting, construction, and operating a mineral water business. Three years ago, he and partner Steve Risenhoover started their own heating and air conditioning company, Moab Heat-N-Cool, which has a staff of around a dozen employees and stays busy year round. The business serves mostly residential clients throughout Grand and San Juan counties.

Back in high school, Jared participated in various activities, including football, band, and chorus. Meantime, Liz was on the drill team, played tennis, was in the strings orchestra, and took outdoor education.

“I really loved outdoor ed, especially the rock climbing,” says Liz. “[Teacher] Steve Hren really cared whether or not you were learning.” After teaching at GCHS for 18 years, Hren is now midway through his first year as principal of the school. Liz also has fond memories of high school math teacher Gene Leonard and his wife Martha, who was Liz’s kindergarten teacher. The Leonards are still a familiar sight at GCHS games and activities. “They still know the names of everyone they’ve ever taught,” says Liz, adding that tennis coach Ron Pierce was another of her favorites. Meantime, Jared remembers liking his 5th grade teacher Mr. Warren, still a fixture at Red Rock Elementary.

The Shumways enjoy spending time in the outdoors, including camping, hiking, dirt bike riding, and horseback riding. They are often seen attending their children’s sporting events, including soccer, baseball, and football games. The family also enjoys attending school sporting events and activities, ranging from football games to band concerts.

“There’s more excitement about football now than there ever has been,” notes Jared, a former Red Devil player himself, adding that his two oldest sons have played little league football over the past few years.

In addition to seven bedrooms, the Shumways’ new home has four and a half bathrooms, plus double washing machines, dryers, and refrigerators to accommodate their large family. Although chauffeuring the children around to their various activities can sometimes be a chore, Liz and Jared take things in stride. “No matter how busy it gets, we somehow manage to get everyone where they need to be,” says Liz. “Everyone pitches in and helps out, including the younger ones.”

“The kids aren’t always really good together, but most of the time they are,” adds Jared.

Despite their somewhat hectic nature of their “Cheaper by the Dozen” lifestyle, Jared and Liz both say they enjoy being in Moab. “I love being close to family, and having so many things to do,” says Liz.

“It seems like there’s always a million things going on,” agrees Jared.
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