Tribute to Edwin McGavock

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Ed McGavockOne week ago today — on March 14, 2016 — M&A lost a brilliant colleague and a beloved member of its work family. Edwin (“Ed”) McGavock passed away quickly and peacefully, surrounded by his dear friend and wife Suzanne and his cherished daughter and son, Carolyn and Michael, at his home in Prescott. While our thoughts circle into sadness and loss, the passion and sheer gusto with which Ed lived his life reminds us that this is also a moment to express gratitude and honor a truly special man.

Ed joined the M&A team about 21 years ago, after an illustrious career with the USGS. Forever curious and dogged in his pursuit of a greater understanding of earth processes, Ed was never going to find retirement to be a good fit. Whether working on an official “project” or simply satisfying his own need to get to the bottom of something, he tirelessly dug up and dug into data. At times, it seemed like a moral obligation, a personal matter, for Ed to uncover the facts, objectively interpret them, and present his observations and conclusions in the most honest way possible. With an unparalleled memory and ability to think big, he could see how the complex pieces of the hydrogeologic puzzle came together in a way that led to practical solutions. His insights proved invaluable on water resources investigations, water quality evaluations, environmental assessments, and surface water / groundwater interaction studies.

While at M&A, Ed mostly worked remotely from his Sedona and then Prescott “office.” However, we all looked forward to the times when he would visit us in either Tucson or Phoenix. There were hugs and perhaps a kiss on the cheek for the women and sincere handshakes and pats on the back for the men. While the purpose for the visit was always work-related, Ed never missed an opportunity to share the latest pictures of his children and grandchildren, along with stories of life with his beloved wife.

Ed was witty, gracious, warm, and fair-minded. Whether you agreed or disagreed with his position on a scientific, political, or ethical matter, he valued the thoughtful opinions and positions of others. Passionate in his desire to dispel misinformation and raise the scientific IQ of the nontechnical community, Ed was forever the gentleman. He actively cultivated respectful discourse and was a model for many of us on how to engage with humility.

Ed’s insightful presentations at Arizona Hydrological Society meetings, as well as his inexhaustible knowledge of Arizona hydrogeology, will be missed. However, more than his gifts to the hydrologic community, those of us who had the good fortune to know, work with, and grow close to Ed over the years will miss the man — a truly honest, kind, humorous, and brilliant human being!