Richard L. ‘Dick’ Pierce

Aug. 1, 1923 - July 22, 2007

Richard L. ‘Dick’ Pierce passed away Sunday morning, July 22, 2007, at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, 10 days before his 84th birthday, after a brief illness.

He was born Aug. 1, 1923, in Minneapolis, the son of the late Jack and Mildred Pierce.

His family moved to Milwaukee a few years later. He graduated West Division High School in Milwaukee in 1941. He subsequently found work as an apprentice machinist before enlisting in the Navy on Dec. 14, 1942. His service during World War II included stints stationed at Navy Pier in Chicago and at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, training at the gunnery school in Alameda, Calif., and finally in the V-12 officers training program, which involved extensive course work at Notre Dame University. He received his honorable discharge from the Navy in December 1945 and enrolled immediately at Marquette University under the GI Bill. It was at Marquette’s School of Journalism that he met Mary Pat Ross, who was to be his wife of 58 years.

Dick earned his bachelor of science degree in journalism from Marquette in 1948, a master’s degree in English from Purdue University in 1958 and a master’s degree in communications from Purdue University in 1983.

On Aug. 28, 1948, he married Mary Pat Ross in Milwaukee.

His first job was as a "cub reporter" for the Waukesha Daily Freeman upon his graduation from college in 1948. He also worked for four years as the director of publications for the Wisconsin Anti-Tuberculosis Association. An opportunity to work with the office of publications at Purdue brought him and his young family to West Lafayette, Ind., in 1954. While on staff, he researched and wrote the annual report of the president each year. In addition to his work in the office, he continued to make contributions as a writer and freelance journalist, most notably for many Catholic publications, including the National Newman News (1961 to 1967). He also contributed to the Krannert Alumni Bulletin. His book, "The Polish in America," was published in 1972.

A founding member of the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in West Lafayette in 1957, he remained a longtime member and an active contributor to parish life. He also was involved with the Lafayette Diocesan Pastoral council where he served, along with his wife, as co-chairman of the communications commission. Other community service in the 1960s included the Family Service Agency of Tippecanoe County, where he served on the board of directors, and the West Lafayette Community School council. For his contributions to the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), he was awarded a lifetime membership in 1988. He was also a charter founding member of the Purdue Employees Federal Credit Union. For many years, he was a member of Tuesday Painters through the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette. He retired in 1988 as senior associate director of the office of publications at Purdue after 34 years of service.

He is survived by five daughters, Catherine Pierce of Washington, D.C., Paula (Richard) Pierce-Lolla of Malvern, Pa., Kristine (Donald) Pierce Lamb of Lafayette, Margaret Dwiggins of Findlay, Ohio, and Maura Pierce of West Lafayette; three sons, Andrew (Sarah) Pierce of Santa Monica, Calif., John (Roxana) Pierce of Rockville, Md., and Michael M. Pierce of Ames, Iowa; and 11 grandchildren, William G. and Richard Pierce McClain, Sam and Luke Pierce-Lolla, Benjamin and Molly Lamb, Amanda and Natalie Pierce and Andrea, Jack and Joe Dwiggins.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Pat Pierce, who died June 12, 2006, and his infant sister, June.

Visitation will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 25, with a Rosary service at 5 p.m., at Hahn-Groeber Funeral Home, 1104 Columbia St., Lafayette, Ind. Visitation continues from 9 a.m. until the 10 a.m. funeral Mass on Thursday, July 26, at Blessed Sacrament Church in West Lafayette, with the Rev. David Douglas officiating. Interment is at St. Mary’s Cemetery.

Contributions can be made to the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette, 102 S. 10th St., Lafayette.

Hahn-Groeber Funeral Home is serving the family. For more information, call (765) 742-7873 or visit online at