A. J. “Jack” Pfister, for 50 years a major figure in Arizona’s legal, business, and educational arenas, passed away July 20, 2009, at age 75. Among his contributions to the community was an 15-year stint on the Flinn Foundation board of directors.
Pfister was most widely known for heading Salt River Project from 1976 to 1991, a period of time during which the utility grew rapidly to match the breakneck growth of Arizona’s population. Before joining SRP, he was a partner at the law firm of Jennings, Strouss, and Salmon, and in a diverse career, also served as a member of the Arizona Board of Regents and as a distinguished research fellow at Arizona State University.
“We are deeply saddened by Jack’s passing,” said David J. Gullen, M.D., chairman of the Flinn Foundation board of directors. “He was a wonderful man who brought a deep well of wisdom to the board table from his extensive knowledge and experience across so many important issues.”
Contributions spanning many sectors
The Flinn Foundation was just one of more than a dozen organizations for which Pfister gave board service. Others included the Arizona Theatre Company, the Center for the Future of Arizona, the Maricopa Community College Foundation, and Maricopa Partnership for Arts and Culture. At various times, he chaired the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, the Arizona Humanities Council, the Arizona Nature Conservancy, and the Metropolitan YMCA.
“Jack was truly one of Arizona’s great civic leaders, and we were fortunate to have his services at the Flinn Foundation,” Dr. Gullen said. “He will be missed at the Foundation and by a great many throughout the Valley and Arizona.”
Upon receiving news of Pfister’s passing, many Arizona leaders expressed gratitude for his dedication to strengthening the state.
“It was Jack’s vision and leadership that helped guide SRP through a period of explosive growth in the Valley and dynamic changes in the utility industry,” said Richard Silverman, general manager of SRP. “Jack was committed to giving back to the community as well, and his many contributions will leave a lasting legacy of goodwill and compassion.”
“He led the Salt River Project, and indeed every civic group and organization on which he served, with quiet skill and uncommon wisdom,” said Gov. Jan Brewer, in the East Valley Tribune.
Pfister was “a vital part of Arizona, a towering force, certainly instrumental in bringing water to the Valley through the Central Arizona Project,” Gov. Brewer added in the Tribune.
A dedication to education
“His support for the university system was unwavering. For decades, Jack was there to lend support and provide guidance,” said Regents President Ernest Calderon, in the Arizona Republic.
Pfister earned his bachelor’s degree in engineering, and his law degree, from the University of Arizona. He carried his commitment to building up Arizona’s universities through his tenure on the Regents and to one of his last board commitments, with the Center for the Future of Arizona, which supports education-related public-policy research and collaborative initiatives.
“He continued to commit himself to projects and causes that played a substantial role in improving the community,” said former Arizona State University President Lattie Coor, the center’s founder, in the Arizona Republic.
Pfister’s family said that contributions in his memory can be made to the Pfister Family Scholarship, Maricopa Community Colleges District Foundation, 2419 W. 14th St., Tempe, AZ 85281; and the Wellness Community, 360 E. Palm Lane, Phoenix, AZ 85004 for lung-cancer support.