The soul of Ronald Johnston Pearce was received into the glory of his Savior Jesus Christ on July 16, 2020. He was received, as it were, safe into heaven’s harbor for an eternity of rest from all his labors. Ronald died less than one month shy of his 92nd birthday and is survived by over 100 living descendants. Chief among his surviving family are his wife of nearly 68 years, Margaret Eva (nee: Gimby), and his eight children: Rev. Ronald E. Pearce, Sharon Chamberlain, Rev. David Pearce, Barbara Couse, Ruth Pearce, J. Edwin Pearce, Murray Pearce, and Marilynn Wright. From their eight children and their spouses, Ronald and Margaret were blessed with 29 grandchildren and over 30 great-grandchildren. Ronald was known and loved by each of the generations of his progeny, and left a legacy of family, faith, and faithfulness.
Ronald Pearce’s life was dedicated to his wife, his family and their provision, the church of Jesus Christ, and his career in the United States Army Corps of Engineers. When he died in his home overlooking the St. Mary’s River, he died in a setting that veritably personified his life’s passions and pursuits. Outside his windows proceeded the ceaseless parade of grand freighters that traversed the Soo Locks under his watchful eye for decades. In the rooms and halls of the house that he designed and built with his own hands some sixty years ago were many of his eight children, comforting and caring for him in their childhood home. And at his bedside was his wife, partner, and soulmate of nearly seven decades, “Margie,” who whispered her tender assurance to him that their parting would not be long since their reunion on the other side of the Jordan would be sweet and certain.
As husband to Margaret and father to his children, Ronald Pearce was faithful and dutiful. He worked diligently and stretched every paycheck to meet the needs of a large family. He enjoyed his children and included them in his projects. He encouraged each child toward education and made sure that they knew and memorized God’s word, The Bible. His desire to see children grow up with a knowledge of their Creator and Savior extended beyond his own family to the numerous children he also helped drive to and from Sunday School over many years. He was a limitless resource of knowledge, information, and problem-solving ability for his children, and played a role in helping each to build, improve, or grow their own houses, careers, or vocations. He had an insatiable appetite for learning and there was seemingly no end to what he could describe, explain, or remember.
His work for the kingdom of Jesus Christ on earth had impacts both nationally and internationally. Both Ronald and Margaret were members of and contributed to the work of Gideons International. They supported numerous foreign missionaries and two of their four sons grew up to be ordained ministers. Ronald was a longstanding member of the Board of Deacons at Calvary Baptist Church in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, where he and Margaret were members the majority of their married life in the Soo.
Professionally, Ronald J. Pearce built an impressive and distinguished career. He was part of the inaugural class of what became Lake Superior State University and graduated from Michigan Technological University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and an added emphasis on Civil Engineering courses. Early years of his career with the US Army Corps of Engineers included a tour of duty rebuilding infrastructure in Korea, and extensive work surveying the northern international US boundary. When he retired from the Corps in 1990, he stepped away from a distinguished and celebrated career as a civilian of distinction within the Corps.
Ronald Johnston Pearce was a man who lived with integrity and worked diligently to meet his own high standards of excellence. He was a lifelong learner and compiled a wealth of knowledge in many fields. He referred to Experience as the best—and most expensive—teacher, and he lived out this creed by putting his hands and intellect to work in a dazzling array of projects, pursuits, endeavors, and undertakings. He worked hard and lived frugally, but he was known by many for his generosity in material goods, skilled labor, and expertise.
Ronald Pearce lived, as it were, continually dredging the channels of his own intellect and ability. He hardly shied at a chance to improve his home or the lives of his wife and children. Professionally, he retired after years of facilitating the passage of the great freighters of America’s inland waterways. Domestically, he was instrumental in lifting each of his own children’s vessels from their childhood shallows into the deep open waters of their own adult lives. There is a countless host of us who can acknowledge that our lives are measurably and indelibly better for being able to count Ronald J. Pearce as our husband, father, grandfather, or friend. He is missed, but we who know the love and redeeming grace of our mutual Savior Jesus Christ will rejoice with him again soon.
A funeral service will be held at 10:30 AM on Wednesday, July 22, 2020, under a tent at the back of Oaklawn Chapel Gardens with two of Ronald’s sons officiating. Friends may gather at the cemetery starting at 10:00 AM.