Bert M. Fireman (1913–1980) was, by choice and vocation, an Arizonan. Fireman worked as an AP and UP journalist after finishing his BA at Arizona State University in 1936. For thirteen years he wrote a daily column for the Phoenix Gazette titled “Under the Sun.” In the 1950s he narrated a local radio program “Arizona Crossroads” on the state’s history, and organized the Arizona Historical Foundation. Fireman was one of the moving forces in exploring and promoting Arizona history and western history. He traveled extensively and wrote for both popular and scholarly audiences in venues like Arizona Highways, Arizona and the West, The Historian, and The American West. He believed in accessible, readable history that would involve the broader public. With Madeline Paré, he authored two Arizona history texts, and was completing a third “informal history,” published posthumously in 1982 as Arizona: Historic Land.
“My father, whose struggles, energies, and dedication to and absolute delight in learning, inspired us,” writes his daughter Janet R. Fireman, Editor of California History and a member of the History Department at Loyola Marymount University. "Our thinking was to continue, in some way, one of my father's enormous pleasures: imparting keen interest and sharing his devotion to intellectual honesty with his students, with researchers and others—or perhaps infecting them with his avid curiosity and biting hunger for history. During the last thirteen years of his life at ASU, he held forth in large classes as a lecturer in Arizona history and as curator of the Arizona Collection in Hayden Library, as well as executive vice president of the Arizona Historical Foundation. After his death, we thought that supporting an award that might stimulate student research, writing, and achievement in Western history would honor his memory by perpetuating his passion,” (email correspondence, 1 July 2004).