Representing Generations of Sun Devils
Art Pearce’s family association with Arizona State began in 1899 when Zebulon “Zeb” Pearce, Pearce’s grandfather, attended the Tempe Normal School.
Since that time, a long-standing tradition of Pearce graduates ensued. However, the family connection with the University is not the only thing that the family holds close to their heart. The Pearce Family also values the connection to the entire valley surrounding the campus that generations upon generations have called home.
After leaving Tempe Normal with a degree in teaching, Zeb Pearce obtained a degree in Mining and Engineering. He moved back to Mesa after his father became sick and began his time teaching.
Zeb became very involved in the city of Mesa and at one point was named the mayor from 1944-46.
Zeb began his interest in business operations when he bought into a business on Main St. in Mesa, which served primarily as a produce and feed store. Not long after, however, the Pearce family’s main business became alcohol distribution for Coors Brewing.
“We sold potatoes to a broker in Colorado, and that broker was very close with Adolph Coors,” Pearce said. “So when Prohibition was repealed in 1933, Coors knew he had to expand outside of the state of Colorado. He was talking with this broker, and the broker said that he knew someone in the state of Arizona that has cold storage, and my grandpa became the first Coors distributor outside of the state of Colorado.”
From then on, the family was involved with the Coors business. Art Pearce attended Arizona State and graduated with a Bachelor's of Science in General Business in 1975.
After the family had passed down the business through generations, Pearce had the opportunity to sell the company in 2004 after the family’s 93 years of ownership.
“[The sale] gave me the ability, once I sold the company, to have the resources to become involved in things like the Coach’s Club at Arizona State,” Pearce said.
The Pearce family has remained fans of Sun Devil football through the generations.
“Back in 1955 when the smaller but current location of Sun Devil Stadium was being finished, my father showed me our new seats,” Pearce said. “I later learned that these were the same seat locations we had at the old Goodwin Stadium. My family has had the same four seats from at least 1946, for almost 69 years.”
Aside from their involvement in athletics, the Pearce family began an endowment at Arizona State in 1973, The Zebulon Pearce Distinguished Quality Teaching Award. The award recognizes and awards professors in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for excellent teaching.
Jessica Pearce, Pearce’s daughter, continues on the tradition of education started by her grandfather, as she was recently accepted into Arizona State’s higher education graduate program.
Pearce’s oldest daughter, Meghan, with the help of her father, created the Pearce Family Foundation, which raises money for families who are suffering from chronic or life-threatening illnesses. Over the past two years, the foundation has raised $40,000 and helped over 30 families.
“One of the first projects was a statue of Zeb on Main St., and now we put on events for the Foundation,” Meghan said. “I went to my dad and said, ‘I think we should create something to bring back the family name and let’s leave a legacy behind.’”
While making a large impact in the early development of the Phoenix metropolitan area, Art and his family hold Arizona State and the surrounding Valley close to heart.
“At the Phoenix Union we have four bricks,” Pearce said. “Starting with grandpa and then all of the relatives that have attended Arizona State. There are many families that have stayed close to Arizona State and want to see the university succeed in athletics and academics. It is the way that we can give back to the community and my grandfather started that era.”