Richard Gene Pearce, 90, of Indianapolis, formerly of Valparaiso, passed away Friday, July 26, 2019, at Traditions at North Willow in Indianapolis. “Dick” was born September 7, 1928, in Michigan City, Ind., to Henry F. and Elsie Rose (Eggebrecht) Pearce, the 5th of 7 children. He met his bride, Jeannette “Bee” Beatrice Chapman of St. Louis, Missouri, while both attended Elmhurst College in Elmhurst, Illinois. On June 2, 1951, they were married at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in St. Louis, and celebrated 68 years of marriage. The couple returned to Elmhurst where Dick graduated in 1952 with a vocal music education degree. He sang tenor in the Elmhurst College Glee Club and various men’s barbershop quartets while attending.
Dick honorably served in the United States Army during the Korean War. He was boarding a plane bound for Korea when he was pulled out of line and reassigned to teach refrigeration to the troops at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. After the service, Dick began his teaching career in vocal music at schools in Lanark and Paxton, Illinois, while obtaining his Masters of Education from the University of Illinois. He and his growing family moved to Gary, Indiana, in 1961 where he worked 27 years as a guidance counselor for Gary Community Schools at Emerson High School and Kennedy-King Middle School. When the family moved to Valparaiso in 1967, Dick continued to commute to Gary, retiring in 1988. Dick was hard-working and used skills acquired during high school employment at Kingsley Furniture Company in LaPorte to become a custom upholsterer as a side occupation to further provide for his wife and four children. He involved his children in this trade when tearing apart and delivering finished furniture.
Dick centered his life around his faith and hope in Jesus Christ. He was the choir director in all of the churches his family attended. He was a charter member of Christ Lutheran Church in Valparaiso. Besides directing the choir, he served on the church council and coached the church mush ball team in the 1970’s. Dick loved sports, especially golf which began as a young boy when he caddied at the Potawatomi Country Club in Michigan City and played with borrowed clubs on Monday mornings. He was a member of Valparaiso’s Forest Park Golf Course where he scored consistently in the 70’s and shot 3 hole-in-ones in his lifetime. He also started a golf ball ministry at Christ Lutheran partly due to the numerous balls he would collect each round in the roughs. His wife, Bee, started a prayer shawl ministry at Christ Lutheran, and Dick helped her deliver those shawls. Dick’s faith, love of family, and love of music carried him through his entire life.
Dick was preceded in death by his parents, three brothers, Henry R. Pearce, Rolland G.
Pearce, and James A. Pearce, and one sister, Bernadine C. Kluge. Surviving are his wife, Bee; two daughters, Diane M. Neuhaus of Waterloo, Iowa, and Dawn L. (Jonathan) Gill of Indianapolis, Indiana; two sons, David C. Pearce of Mesa, Arizona, and Andrew S. Pearce of Valparaiso; five grandchildren, Joshua and James Gill both of Indianapolis, Patrick Neuhaus of St. Charles, Iowa, Kimberly (Joshua) Rago of Waterloo, Iowa, and Jarett Pearce of Chesterton, Indiana; one brother, Frederick E. Pearce of Roseville, California, and one sister, Darlene H. Pearce of Bend, Oregon.
A memorial service celebrating Dick’s life was held July 30, 2019 at his and Bee’s residence.
Burial will be at a future date in Blachly Cemetery, Valparaiso, Indiana. Memorial contributions can be made to Christ Lutheran Church, 2610 N. Campbell St., Valparaiso, IN 46385 or American Diabetes Association, www.diabetes.org, P.O. Box 15829, Arlington, VA 22215.