Jesse L. Pierce, 98, passed away on Friday, March 31st at The Springs surrounded by his family.
Jesse was born May 7, 1918, in Miles City, MT to Elsie and Dwight Pierce. He and his siblings, Waldo, Frank and Elsie were raised in Boyes, MT and attended the country grade school.
He became a cowboy and sheepherder, working on ranches in the area until 1939, when he went to work in the Antimone Mine in Thompson Falls. Jesse returned to ranching and worked for the Edna Wilma Simons Ranch on the outskirts of Missoula.
Jesse joined the Marine Corps in 1941, undergoing basic training at El Toro Marine Base in San Diego. He was sent to the South Pacific in 1942 and worked as a Flight Engineer on transport planes. He returned to San Diego in 1944, and married Dorothy Clinkingbeard in Santa Ana. In September, 1945, Jesse was shipped back overseas to the Solomon Islands, Tsing Tao China, and the Philippines where he participated in the Southern Philippine Campaign. After being discharged from the Marine Corps in 1946, Jesse returned to Missoula.
He obtained his private pilot's license, worked as a carpenter on the University of Montana married student housing units, and for 34 years he was employed at the Missoula White Pine Sash Co. as a sawyer. He served as Secretary/Treasurer for his Union for a number of years and served as a Delegate to many Union conventions. Jesse retired in 1980.
Jesse was a long-time member of the Moose Lodge, participating in the Lodge's competition rifle team. Much to the dismay of the females in the household, he would target practice in the basement of the family home. He taught gun safety courses to children at the Lodge. Jesse was a lifetime member of the VFW, Post 209.
In 1960, he and Dorothy purchased property on Lake Inez, and over the course of several years, Jesse personally built their summer home. He loved being at the lake and spent every possible moment he could being there. He rarely hired anyone to work on their properties, thinking, sometimes mistakenly, that he could do it himself. He took some heat for not quite putting that last touch on a project before moving on to the next one. Everyone knew they could count on Jesse for help whenever it was needed.
Jesse was an avid hunter and fisherman. He never missed a deer and elk season. At the spry age of 83, following quadruple heart by-pass surgery in August, he worked diligently on his rehabilitation in order to build his strength and "hunting legs" so he would not miss opening day in October. "Hunting" to Jesse did not include driving around in a warm pickup truck looking for something to shoot. It meant trudging up mountains, hopefully through snow so he could see some tracks, to find the game. He hand-carved rifle stocks and elk mating calls, working diligently to get just the right sound. At the age of 84 he bagged his last elk.
He kept his mind and body active, not able to sit for too long before jumping up to tinker with something in his basement or garage. When Dorothy was no longer able to traverse the stairs to the basement at their home, no one really knew what he had going on down there. He worked out on the treadmill while singing along with Charlie Pride on his cd player. He kept his mind active by reading and working the daily crossword, cryptoquote and sudoku puzzles, as well as playing card games on the computer. He was a competitive cribbage player, as well.
Jesse was an extremely kind and gentle man. He certainly was a part of the Greatest Generation.
He was a really great Dad.
He loved his two grandsons, granddaughter-in-law, and two great-granddaughters.
And, especially, he was a wonderfully devoted and dedicated husband for 72-1/2 years.
Jesse is survived by his loving wife, Dorothy; his two daughters, Karen (Vic) Schatz, and Pamela (Gene) Leonard; grandson Jay (Dana) Schatz; and his two great-granddaughters, Ashlyn and Sara Schatz. Son-in-law, Vic Schatz, passed away in 2008, and grandson, Rick Schatz, passed in 2016.
Jesse was and will always be our Hero.
Condolences and memories may be left for the family at www.gardencityfh.com