Marie Slezak Pearthree

17 December, 195522 February, 2023
Obituary of Marie Slezak Pearthree
Marie Slezak Pearthree, a longtime Tucson resident, died peacefully at home on Wednesday February 22, 2023 after a valiant 2-year struggle with cancer. Marie was a dynamic, determined, capable, and unforgettable person who made the organizations she worked for and the community she lived in better. She loved her family dearly and would do anything for them. Her positive attitude was remarkable and inspiring. Her family and many friends and colleagues miss her greatly. Marie was born on December 17, 1955, in Indianapolis, IN. Her father joined the State Department when she was 5 years old, so she grew up in Bermuda, France, Belgium, and Denmark. Marie returned to the U.S. to attend Oberlin College in Ohio, where she majored in Geology and met her future husband Phil. Marie and Phil moved to Tucson in 1978 to attend graduate school at the University of Arizona. They married in 1980 and had daughters Genevieve and Kristin. Marie had a diverse and impactful 40-year career in the water industry. She began as a hydrologist with Cella Barr Associates and the Pima County Flood Control District, eventually becoming a Professional Engineer (Civil) despite no formal education in engineering. Looking for new challenges, in 1995 she became a Tucson City Council aide focused on water issues. She moved to Tucson Water in 1997 and was promoted to Deputy Director in 1999 where she oversaw projects that led to the successful reintroduction of Central Arizona Project (CAP) water to Tucson. In 2009 Marie accepted an offer to join CAP in Phoenix, first as Assistant and later Deputy General Manager before retiring in 2016. Marie was active in the American Water Works Association and served as President of the AZ Water Association in 2016-17. AZ Water honored her with the Fuller Award in 2018 recognizing her dedication to securing Arizona’s long-term water supply. Throughout her career, Marie continually impressed with her ability to accomplish whatever she set her mind to–Marie got things done. She served as a role model to her daughters and to women in her field. In “retirement”, Marie investigated the disastrous initial introduction of CAP water to Tucson in the early 1990s and its successful reintroduction in the early 2000s, co-authoring “Tucson Water Turnaround, Crisis to Success” with Mike McGuire in 2020. They aimed to communicate lessons learned from this turbulent period in Tucson’s history to water managers everywhere. She persevered in efforts to publicize the book despite Covid-19 lockdowns and her cancer diagnosis, including serving as the keynote speaker for several conferences and hosting a booth at the Tucson Festival of Books in 2022. Marie served on the CAP Board of Directors from 2020-23. Marie had an irrepressible zest for life. She loved music, writing, cooking, dancing, gardening, skiing, bike rides, and spending time with family, friends, and her dogs. Marie prioritized family traditions and planned epic vacations. Puerto Peñasco, Mexico and Durango, CO were her happy places: she loved kayaking, reading on the beach, and hiking in the mountains. She made photobooks filled with love and humor to commemorate life’s big moments and fun trips for her family and friends to treasure. Marie is survived by her partner of 45 years, Phil, her daughters Genevieve (Brian) and Kristin, her sisters Lisa and Helen (John), brother Paul (Ellen), mother Rheta, sisters-in-law Vicki (Charlie) and Linda, and numerous nieces and nephews. She is preceded in death by her father Lester. A celebration of life for Marie will be held on April 29, 2023 from 10am – 1pm at Contigo Latin Kitchen (3770 E. Sunrise Dr., Tucson). Her family suggests any memorial contributions be made to the scholarship funds that Marie established in 2021 to support geoscience students: • Marie S. Pearthree Summer Research Scholarship, University of Arizona Foundation: • Pearthree Geology Fund, Oberlin College: (Select “Other” and enter “Pearthree Geology Fund”)

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Saturday, 29 April, 2023

Celebration of Life