Now, however, he has turned his attention to the younger generation.
Slezak’s first children’s book, “Marsha the Manatee,” was published in late November and is available online at many different outlets.
Letters from a friend in Florida helped inspire 63-year-old Slezak to write the book.
The friend “sent me some videos about manatees that swim into the areas,” he said. “I had already been doing some writing on some other things. The story just came to me and I decided to write it and people encouraged me to publish it, so that’s what I did.”
The story tells about a manatee, Marsha, who is injured by a boat propeller. Marsha is rescued and nursed back to health and in the process, it is discovered she is pregnant with twins.
She is released into Wakulla Springs and meets up with another manatee that originally nudged Marsha toward the rescue boat.
The book was produced by Publishing America, which provided the illustrator.
“I never published a book before,” Slezak said. “Publishing America caters to first-time authors. They did the illustrations and they did it for free, so I took that route. I wasn’t looking to make money from the book. I was just looking to get published.”
Slezak said he’s been writing about his life experiences and had never considered writing a children’s book.
“I’ve been doing some writing about some other things, my experiences growing up. I intend to put those in a book eventually,” he said. “I don’t usually do kids books. This came to me and I decided to do it.”
And he’s already finished a sequel, which is undergoing the proofreading process.
“It was a lot of fun,” Slezak said. “The fun is seeing the finished product. It’s not something that 10 years ago I would have expected I would be doing.”
Slezak was a councilor from 1990-94, serving as deputy mayor the final year.
He left Rio Rancho some time ago to move to Arizona, where he helped America West Airlines with Y2K issues, then moved into quality assurance.
Slezak retired several years ago and returned to the area, but decided he would prefer to live in Albuquerque.
“I keep abreast of what’s going on there,” he said. “But if I lived in Rio Rancho I’d probably want to run again.”