Marrs Is Out Of This World ... Despite Lunch

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"You just have to do a story on Rowena Marrs," gushed one of Marrs' bosses within the Town of Payson's Parks and Recreation Department. "She's really a breath of fresh air."

When told of that assessment, Marrs instantly disagreed.

"I had tacos for lunch, so I don't think that's true today," she said.

You gotta love a woman with a sense of humor like that.

And the fact is even directly in the aftermath of a Mexican-food dining experience Marrs lives up to her advance billing.

"Do you wanna hear my full family of 'Enas'?" she asked, answering her own question well before you have the chance to figure out what the heck she's talking about.

"I have a sister named Athena. And I have an identical twin sister named Selena. My mom is Troena, and my nieces are Carlena, Marlena and Christena.

"When my husband and I started having children, he said, 'No more Enas, because the only one left is Hyena!"

Clearly, Rowena listened to Greg, her spouse of 19 years. Their children are Stephanie, 16, and Troy, 14.

Born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas, Rowena finally got out of her hometown at the age of 21 when she attended Florida College in Tampa, Fla.

"It was a Christian college and the only one my parents would let me go to," she said, laughing. Although Rowena added that she's just kidding, you get the hint that maybe she isn't.

At Florida College, while majoring in education, she met Greg, a native Arizonan with the same major. But that's not all they had in common.

"He was a basketball player and I was a cheerleader. There you go. And we were both the shortest ones on the squad."

Rowena didn't finish her degree, but Greg did at the University of Arizona after the couple had married and relocated to his old stomping grounds in Tucson.

"The saguaros really surprised me," she said. "When we flew in, it was nighttime. The next morning, I looked out of the window and was just amazed by the saguaros."

Over the next 16 years, Rowena worked in a flower shop, and toiled for the local school district as a teacher's aide and community rep. And then Greg who was employed as a district manager for a roofing supply company was transferred to Phoenix.

But they didn't like that idea much especially after Greg discovered Payson.

"We took several trips up here before we decided to move here (in 1997) instead of the Valley," Rowena said. "I loved it. There's such a different feel to this town. Although I was born in Fort Worth, I grew up in the suburbs where there was still a small-town atmosphere. Moving to Payson was, for me, a return to that same atmosphere. I'd like to think that we'll stay here forever."

Her first job in town was as a substitute teacher for all of Payson's learning institutions except the high school which is now something of a bittersweet memory.

"I really enjoyed it, but ...," she said, searching for the most polite words she can muster, "I don't think I'd ever do the middle school again. At that age, they think they can get away with anything. And they were all bigger than me."

(Note: Just about everyone is bigger than Rowena. She's 5 foot 2.)

"Whenever I'd get a call about going to the middle school, I'd say, 'No, no, don't you have something in elementary? Please?'"

She was permanently rescued from that predicament three years ago, when a friend mentioned a job opening within the town's parks and recreation department. Rowena promptly filled out an application.

"I thought, this is where I need to be. I like people, and the comfort of an office job, and working with kids again. Everything starts here, and then I just send it where it needs to go. It's a great job. I feel very lucky to have it."

Meanwhile, Greg has started his own local business, the Arete Roofing Company.

"Arete is Greek for excellence," Rowena explained helpfully. "Plus, the name puts you first in the phone book until someone comes up with AAA Roofing."

Although it may be hard to believe that there could be two women on the planet as charming and lovely as Rowena Marrs, there are. She's one-half of a set of identical twins. Rowena said that while she and her twin, Selena, never shared any of those odd, telepathic experiences you hear from some perfectly matched siblings, they did secretly switch themselves around on double dates.

The sisters' parents and close friends could tell them apart because one of them, either Rowena or Selena, had a big freckle on the side of her nose.

"I'd like to think it was Selena that had the big freckle, but it could have been me," Rowena said. "I forget. But people were always coming up to both of us, pushing our noses to the side and looking for the freckle."

Now you know the proper way to greet Rowena Marrs the next time you see her.

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