A Life Lived: Sonny Pierce set high standards for himself when it came to ethics, work, and family

Published 11:34 am Tuesday, March 12, 2024

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To Sonny Earl Pierce, every morning represented a new beginning, a new day, and a new opportunity to do something good, to meet new people, and to try something new.

Sonny, who grew up in the Centerview Community, was 90 years old when he died on February 29. Work, family, and church consumed his life from the time he was a young man until he grew old. He was a United States Army veteran, having served in the Korean War. When he came home from service, Sonny went to work at North American Rayon Corporation as did most young men of his time. He worked at the rayon plant for 25 years. He later worked at Kendall Oil Company and operated Sonny’s Superette Market and managed the Market Street Gas Station. Also, at one time he owned and managed a small trailer park. 

Sonny also enjoyed working on cars. “He knew cars like the back of his hand,” said his son, Chris. At one time he and his brother had a repair shop downtown, and after they sold it, they worked on cars in their garages at home. Sonny’s specialty was Volkswagens, and building engines for the car. He was a rare breed. He had a lot of talent, and was good at what he did,” Chris added with pride.

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“Dad could do a lot of things, and was always out and doing for others,” said Chris.

One of Sonny’s favorite pastimes was officiating ballgames. “He loved young people, and when he made a call, he always took a second to tell the player what they had done wrong. He officiated baseball, basketball, and football games at all levels. He called games until he was 82 years old,” Chris shared.

“I’m thankful for my upbringing and that I had the parents that I did. They set high standards for me and were always there for me,” Chris added.

“Dad enjoyed being around young people. He loved sports and he was a mentor to so many kids,” his son said.

In addition to refereeing, Sonny had served on the Elizabethton Twins Board of Directors. He was inducted into the Carter County Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.

In addition to his family Sonny loved his church, Centerview Church of Christ. “He contributed much to the new church building on Stateline Road. He was faithful in attendance and he lived the life of a Christian. Both, Dad and my mother were helpful to a lot of people. They lived their faith,” said Chris.

In addition to his son, Sonny is survived by two grandchildren, Robert Allen Pierce and Keshia Ann Pierce Ferguson, and two brothers, Joel Pierce and Jerry Pierce.

“I was fortunate to have the family that I did. My dad could do a lot of things and he taught me a lot. My mother was a wonderful person and supported my dad. My dad was always out and doing. He was not an inside person, although he did occasionally watch a ballgame on television. He made life interesting. Dad enjoyed making friends and doing things for people,” said Chris with pride.

Truly, Sonny Earl Pierce lived his life in service to others…and many will remember his gift of friendship. Arnold Thomas wrote on the funeral home tribute page: “Great person, humble servant, and a wonderful mentor.”

All who knew Sonny Pierce have wonderful memories of him.