From the Armed Service to Ranch Life: The Stories of Hard Working Women
In honor of Veteran’s Day, we thought it was best suited to feature a few of our Arizona cattlewomen in a series of blog posts. The ladies we will feature over the next several weeks not only worked hard on their family’s ranches but also fought for the freedoms we enjoy in this country. We are so excited to share the stories and hope you enjoy!
Marie Pyeatt, long time rancher and supporter of the Arizona State Cowbelles and the Arizona beef community, will kick off this series. Please read and enjoy her story.
Marie Pyeatt was born in Ogden, Utah, April 16, 1946 to Dr. Edgar and Lena Reynolds Higgs. She was the fourth of five children and grew up in Clinton, Utah. 4-H was a way of life in her house. She completed multiple 4-H projects each year from the time she was 10 years old until she was 21. In 1962, she won a trip to the National 4-H Club Congress held in Chicago, IL. She graduated from Clearfield High School in 1964 and received her BS at Utah State University majoring in Home Economics Education in 1968. She taught Home Economics at Layton High School in Layton, Utah for 5 ½ years where she was the department head for 3 of those years.
Marie was commissioned a 1st Lieutenant and joined the US Army in January 1974. After officer training at Fort McClellan in Anniston, AL and Signal Officer Basic Training at Fort Gordon, in Augusta, GA, she was transferred to Fort Huachuca, AZ in July 1974. While there she was assigned as a protocol officer with the Army Communications Command twice and various troop assignments with the 11th Signal Group. In April 1975, she married James Pyeatt, a third generation Arizona rancher, and one week later became the first female company commander in the 11th Signal Brigade when she assumed command of the 526th Signal Company. In January 1976, Marie was promoted to Captain Pyeatt. Three years to the day, she left for Fort Gordon to attend the Signal Officer Advanced Course in July of 1977.
In January 1978, Cpt Pyeatt was assigned to the 41st Signal Battalion in Seoul, South Korea as the Battalion Supply Officer. Being assigned to the Communications Electronics Engineering Agency, she returned to Fort Huachuca in December 1978. Attending the Management Information Systems Officer Course at Ft. Ben Harrison, IN in 1979 changed her career path to the computer field. She chose to end her active duty service and change to the Army Reserve status in December 1979. After serving in the Reserves at Ft Huachuca, AZ and Ft Lee, VA, Marie was promoted to Major Pyeatt at Ft Lee, VA in 1984. After a few more years of reserve service, she made the choice to go to the Inactive Reserves.
Marie became a full time working ranch wife in January 1980. She enjoyed her time in the saddle, checking and working cattle, helping with branding, fixing fence and all the other things we do on ranches. After spending her whole adult life working with people, she found that only having dogs, cats, cows and horses to converse with was not enough to keep her brain active so she started taking classes at the local community college on a part-time basis. Two days a week she went to school and the others she spent on the ranch. In 1987, Marie graduated from Cochise College with an AAS in Computer Information Systems. She was an associate faculty member at Cochise College in Sierra Vista from 1987 to 2010, teaching various computer-related classes.
Being part of an active cattle ranching family during this time, she was also involved in the Arizona State Cowbelles organization. She was the Santa Cruz County Cowbelles President from 2005 to 2008 and served as the Arizona State Cowbelles President from 2008-2009. Marie participated in multiple activities and held many offices with the Arizona State Cowbelles over the years. She is also active in the American National CattleWomen, Inc serving as Communications Committee Chair from 2011- 2013 and is on the ANCW Foundation board of directors.
Along with Cowbelle activities, Marie has been the secretary/treasurer for the Southwestern Pioneer Cowboys Association since 1996. Marie was elected as a member of the Santa Cruz-Cochise County Farm Service Agency committee in 2014 after being a minority advisor for the Pima-Santa Cruz County committee for a number of years. She is also a member of the Southern Arizona Forest Service Resource Advisory Committee and is currently serving as President of the Black Oak Cemetery Association.
When asked about the most iimportant lesson she learned while in the army she replied, “Keep your priorities straight. If it isn’t life threatening for you or someone, DON’T PANIC – even then, handle that priority first without panicking.”