Dr. James Reuben Pierce

Published 11:40 am Friday, December 8, 2023

Dr. James Reuben Pierce, 85, Elizabethton, died on December 7, 2023, at Johnson City Medical Center after a brief illness. Reuben was born in Fall Branch, Tenn., to the late Enos W. and Ruth Boyer Pierce. He was also preceded in death by his grandparents, Pierce B. Boyer and Achsah S. Boyer of the Harmony Community, and his beloved brother, Danny Mack Pierce. His mother, Ruth, and grandmother, Achsah, were his first teachers and they imparted wisdom and morals to him. Reuben always said his secret to success was “living right and a clean conscience.”
Reuben was a 1956 graduate of Fall Branch High School. He followed in his mother’s footsteps as an educator. He graduated in 1960 from East Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Instrumental Music. In 1962, he earned his M.M. Ed. in Choral Music from Florida State University and then in 1978, his Ed.D. from East Tennessee State University.
Reuben started his teaching career in Bay County, Fla., in 1962 and then moved back to the Tri-Cities and started his Tennessee teaching career in 1965. He worked in the Elizabethton Public School System, Bristol Public School System, Northeast State Community College, and East Tennessee State University. Some of his professional accolades include Stokely Fellowship, University of Tennessee Knoxville, Fulbright Scholarship to Republic of Korea, UNESCO Visiting Professor Warsaw, Poland, and Debrecen, Hungary, NDEA Foreign Language Study Grant (French) University of Florida, and Council for Basic Education Independent Study Grant the National Endowment of the Humanities. He was lovingly known to his students as “Dr. Pierce” and he was feared by many and respected by all. Reuben’s teaching did not stop in the classroom because of him, many of his students experienced travel and the arts. For some of his students, his educating them lasted throughout his life which greatly enriched their lives. Reuben’s hobbies were traveling, cooking, eating fine food and wine tasting.
Reuben leaves behind one nephew, David W. Pierce, and a sister-in-law, Mary Lou Pierce. He is also survived by several cousins.
It was Reuben’s wish to be cremated. A private family service will be held at a later date. Condolences may be sent to our website, www.memorialfcelizabethton.com.
Memorial Funeral Chapel is serving the Pierce family.

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