Celebrating the Legacy
of John Charles Pritzlaff, Jr. 1925-2005
& Mary Dell Olin Pritzlaff 1929-2015
The Saturday evening performance of Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concert at Trinity Cathedral on November 12, 2016 is dedicated in memory of John Charles Pritzlaff, Jr. and Mary Dell Olin Pritzlaff.
John and Mary Dell Pritzlaff were the embodiment of Arizona’s first century. Both from prominent business and industrial families (John from Pritzlaff Hardware Company in Milwaukee, one of the largest wholesale hardware and iron supply houses in the Midwest; Mary Dell from the multi-national Olin Corporation), they headed West from Wisconsin in 1958 to raise their young family and seek new horizons in the Arizona desert.
From day one in their adopted state, John and Mary Dell became civically, politically and ecumenically active. They devoted their lives to improve their community though public service, philanthropy and volunteerism.
John was elected to the Arizona House of Representatives in 1960. He served four terms and became the first Republican to chair the Appropriations Committee. In April, 1969, he was appointed by President Richard Nixon as ambassador to Malta. He served in this capacity until June, 1972. The Pritzlaff family returned to Phoenix where in 1974, he was appointed to fill the State Senate seat vacated by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor when she was appointed to the Arizona State Appellate Court. He was in the State Senate for eight years serving as Minority Whip, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Chairman of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. He retired from elective politics in 1982.
John was very active locally and nationally in The Nature Conservancy, where he served on the National Board of Governors and as Treasurer. He also served on the boards of trustees of the Arizona Botanical Gardens and the Heard Museum.
Foremost in John’s life were his love of God, family and country. John was known always for his fair, thoughtful and civil dialogue. He was an avid conservationist, gardener, cook and raconteur.
Mary Dell served as President of the Phoenix Art Museum Board of Trustees. She also served on the Heard Museum Board of Trustees, the Phoenix Symphony Board and the Board of Visitors. In 1979, recognizing her many years of community service, Mary Dell was named Phoenix Woman of the Year.
Mary Dell fulfilled her life-long passion for horses through breeding, training, and showing hackney and long tail ponies. Several of her ponies were world champions.
In 1976, John and Mary Dell’s daughter, Ann, married J. Fife Symington, III. Symington later become Arizona’s 19th Governor and served two-terms in the 1990’s.
Both John and Mary Dell were lifelong members of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona and were faithful congregants of St. Barnabas on the Desert Parish in Paradise Valley.