Mark D. Pierson, 77, celebrated his arrival in Bullhead City, Arizona, where he vacationed for the cold winter months. He danced one last dance with his wife, Sue, and peacefully passed away the following morning, leaving the world a better place than he had found it.
Mark was a man of many names, but I called him Grandpa.
He was born on Oct. 1, 1942. He was an active boy who loved the outdoors just as any true Montanan. He was an avid hunter, fisher, and a one-time canoe builder. When his canoe collapsed mid-stream, he laughed with his best friend, Bob, of 70 years and continued to persist. This is the epitome of the man he would become.
Mark and Bob were inseparable. The bond they shared was one like no other; a bond that was cherished and spoken of regularly. Together, they made sauerkraut that could kill a cow (we still don’t know if it actually did), and often shared family meals together long after they were both married. One meal, when Sue made the ‘boys’ a pie, was always remembered. The pie crust was solid as rock, but they politely tried to eat it. They often joked that it could be used for target practice.
School was his least favorite, but he graduated from Anaconda High — just barely, he would always joke. After graduating, he picked up Sue and traveled to Salmon, Idaho, where they married. While on route, he had seven flat tires and found a bouquet of flowers at a local mortuary. He only hoped this was not a ‘sign’ as to the pending marriage. Lucky for him, it was merely an odd coincidence. Mark and Sue were married for 54 years — a marriage that endured the hardships of life but strengthened with each passing day. Sue’s happiness was essential to his own, and Mark gained another best friend.
The love they shared was seen by all who knew them. It consisted of Sue rising high on her toes and Mark bending nearly in half to give her a kiss. It was Sue waking early to make his lunch for the workday; it was Mark who got a little stressed every time they entered a quilt shop; it was family meals where they bantered back and forth about who made the better salad. It was love in its purest form.
Mark served as a sonar-man in the United States Navy. He often reminisced about his time in the service and told stories with great pride for his country. But, his service did not seize after discharge; he devoted his life to serving all those around him. He had two children, Cindy and Ed, and fathered his nieces and nephews as though they were his own. He worked at the Anaconda Smelter until its close and, soon, thereafter, worked at a local bowling alley where he and his family shared memories for a lifetime. Ed was older, so Mark always put him to work, while Cindy, the younger of the two, found herself playing with bowling pins — a story that has lasted through time and always gave Mark a chuckle. Mark eventually retired from ExxonMobil. His work-ethic was unwavering, and he never failed to provide for his family.
He was a man of few words; a man whose actions spoke the loudest. He was gentle, kind, and selfless. He had a sense of humor that was as dry as day-old bread, but when he cracked a laugh, it came straight from his belly and could make anyone in the room join in. His smile was sublime.
He was a cheeseburger connoisseur and could eat canned peas on nearly anything. He was an artist, a card-shark, and food pusher. ‘Finish it up,’ he proudly shouted at the end of each meal. He was a golfer who was most proud of his hole-in-one, even if it meant buying drinks for everyone on the course. Speaking of, he was the cheapest man we ever knew, but we loved him for it. But, he was also the most giving. If there ever came a time when his people were in need, Mark was the first person to offer a helping hand. Whether he opened his home, provided a warm meal, or gave the neighbor $5.00, he was the guy. He was the guy we could all count on. From Civil War novels to the life-enriching words of Andy Andrews, Mark was always eager to learn about the past and continue to learn about himself.
Andy Andrews, in one of Mark’s favorite books, said: ‘When you know that everything matters—that every move counts as much as any other—you will begin living a life of permanent purpose.’
My grandpa was a man of permanent purpose.
In lieu of funeral services, his ashes will be spread at the Middle Fork of Rock Creek in Anaconda, Montana, per his request.
We are privileged to have loved and been loved so deeply.
Mark is survived by his loving wife, Sue Pierson; his dearest and best friend of 70 years, Bob Wolter (Peggy Wolter); his son, Ed Pierson (Deb Pierson); his daughter, Cindy Walter (Jon Walter); his granddaughter, Hanna Walter; his nephews, Mike Hess (Joyce Hess), Ray Hess (Rita Hess), and Danny Hess; his nieces, Kathy Lea (Jim Lea), and Karen Merzlak; his sisters-in-law, Gerry Jorgenson (Tim Jorgenson), Carole Preskar, and Rose Mary Gross; his brothers-in-law, Mel Schnabel, Larry Kalcso (Dorothy Kalcso), Ron Kalcso; and numerous nieces and nephews.
A special thank you to Mike and Joyce Hess and Melissa Wyland for your endless support and comfort. Your actions have not gone unnoticed, and we appreciate all that you have done and continue to do. Also, a special thank you to Mark and Sue’s friends in Bullhead City for loving two of our favorite people so much and making Sue’s pain a little more bearable.