Mari Frances Pesek loved the outdoors — camping, biking, hiking.
She and her brother Alex Pesek of Lincoln had just finished hiking the John Muir Trail in California on Sept. 7.
They were on their way Wednesday to Crater Lake National Park in Oregon when their car was in a two-vehicle accident at the intersection of Highway 138 and U.S. Highway 97 in Klamath County, Ore.
Mari, 25, of Lawrence, Kan., was pronounced dead at the scene. Alex Pesek was treated at a hospital in Klamath Falls, Ore., and released.
“We always thought she was the best of us — the least judgmental, the most outgoing,” said Cara Pesek of Lincoln, a World-Herald staff writer.
“She was really funny. She had so many friends. She was outgoing but humble.”
Mari, Alex and Cara Pesek did the Bicycle Ride Across Nebraska in 2010. Mari, Alex and sister Anne Pesek Taylor of Salt Lake City bicycled through Montana in 2009.
This year, Cara, Alex, Mari and Anne spent a weekend together in February at Mari's home.
“We were all really close. We tried to take a sibling vacation trip together every summer,” Cara Pesek said.
Mari Pesek graduated in 2006 from East Butler High School in Brainard, Neb. She was on the 2004-05 state champion cross country team. She graduated in 2010 with a degree in environmental studies from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
While at UNL, she was part of an undergraduate research program known as UCARE. She spent spring break one year sifting through piles of cool, damp leaves, hunting for wolf spiders.
In a 2010 World-Herald interview about the project, Mari Pesek said: “Working with spiders has taught me that I can work with a lot of different animals. And maybe not the kinds of animals that you think are so cute and fuzzy.”
The interest in spiders continued after graduation. She kept pet spiders — tarantulas, wolfs and others, Cara Pesek said.
In August, Mari Pesek received a master's degree in prairie ecology from the University of Kansas in Lawrence.
“She was still kind of deciding what she was going to do,” Cara Pesek said. “Mari was very ecologically minded. She was very conscious of her place and everything's place in the world.”
Besides her siblings, Mari Pesek is survived by her parents, Tom and Gretchen Pesek of Brainard, and boyfriend Joe Link of Lawrence.
The rosary will be said at 7 p.m. Monday at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Brainard. A funeral Mass will begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the same church.