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 What Would Joe Do?
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at www.aycinena.com. She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.

Sorrow: like sands through the hourglass

 
November 19th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

The extraordinary Marie Pistilli passed away on Saturday, November 14th, six difficult weeks after sustaining profound injuries in an auto accident in early October.

News of her death came on the morning after the terrible events in Paris, and for a time it was difficult to sort out the different threads of grief and sorrow. The loss of many strangers blended with the loss of a single individual that I have admired and known personally for many years.

Now, some days later, it is clear that the world is still turning, the sun still comes up each morning and the stars are still arrayed overhead at night. The situation in Europe continues to be troubling and complex, but it is no longer layered over the emotions surrounding the loss of Marie.

Marie Pistilli was a marvelous person. She listened well and intensely, a special accomplishment and skill for which Lucio Lanza received a Kaufman Award, and Marie was a capable, no-nonsense co-founder and long-time leader of the Design Automation Conference, a special accomplishment and skill for which her husband Pat received the Kaufman Award.

Marie did not receive the Kaufman Award, or even a public mention of concern from the industry she helped build at either the EDAC event on October 29th or the CEDA/EDAC event on November 12th. I may not have admired that oversight, but it’s not clear that Marie would have had it any other way.

When Pat Pistilli received the Kaufman Award in 2010, Marie was at his side. I could not know the inner workings of her heart, but it certainly appeared that her only emotions were ones of joy and pride that her beloved Pat was being honored. If there was any indication that she felt slighted, it was not at all evident.

Perhaps that is because Marie had bigger issues in life to concentrate on. And that is not to suggest for one minute that she was a good woman who knew how to let others shine. Yes, clearly her accomplished family was a central focus for Marie, including Pat, their children and associated families, and her beloved employee ‘family’ at MP Associates, her loyalty to all of them being legendary.

But Marie also had her work, her efforts to build DAC into a pivotal, world-class venue for technical and business innovation in design automation, and her many years of creative leadership helping to build a supportive environment for professional women within EDA.

With all of this, Marie spent her decades of involvement in the industry building something bigger than just a platform from which to proclaim her accomplishments or rights to a lifetime achievement award. Never losing track of her obligations to her family, her community, or the rigors of her faith, she also successfully demanded and secured for herself a life of the mind.

You knew when you spoke to Marie that she was very focused and very observant, and that she had the confidence to act on the conclusions that came from those things. In so doing, Marie Pistilli was building a world in which she herself was a full and intelligent participant.

For that, so many people owe her far more than a simple award. We owe her respect and gratitude for having shown us all how it’s done. How to live life to the fullest and without fear. How to take a world at times so full pain and sorrow, and courageously reshape it back into a world full of hope and possibility.

Marie was an extraordinary woman. It was an honor to call her a friend.

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