Darrell L. Pierce

Friday, September 18, 2015 1:08 pm

Darrell L. Pierce, 76, of Decorah, died peacefully surrounded by his loving family Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015, at his home in Decorah. He died after a long battle with multiple myeloma cancer, which started sometime in 2010. Memorial services are at 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 25, at First Lutheran Church in Decorah, with Rev. Chad Huebner officiating. Organist is Marcia Engebretson. Congregational hymns are “Borning Cry” and “Lift High the Cross.” Private family inurnment is later, at Lutheran Cemetery in Decorah, with full military honors. Visitation is from 3 to 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 24, at Fjelstul Funeral Home and Friday beginning at 10 a.m. one hour before the service, at First Lutheran Church. Memorials may be directed to WMC Hospice, 901 Montgomery Street, Decorah, IA 52101. Fjelstul Funeral Home in Decorah is serving the family. Online condolences may be made at fjelstul.com.

Darrell Lee Pierce was born in Decorah June 25, 1939, the oldest son of Merlyn and Evelyn Pierce. Darrell was educated in the Decorah school system, and he always enjoyed sports and being a Viking. He graduated in 1957. He felt that he had the very best possible teammates and classmates. A few days after graduation, he and Carsten Ingvoldstad entered the United States Air Force. He served on bases in Texas, Wyoming, Labrador and California. During the entire year of 1958, Darrell served on a mountain-top early-warning radar site with just 200 other airmen, near Goose Bay, Labrador, at a time when it was feared Russian bombers would invade United States airspace. His last two years of service were in northern California, where he obtained his first semester of college at San Francisco State University. Upon discharge in 1961, he started summer school at Luther College, and while attending classes year around the next three years, he also worked part-time at the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant, Ruen Furniture, The Men’s Shop and Sverre Svenson and Sons Construction. He was always grateful to these employers who allowed him to work flexible hours to help finance his education. Darrell married his high school sweetheart and soulmate, Sondra, Dec. 9, 1961, and they enjoyed 54 years of marriage. They rented an apartment in the Luther College barracks for $30 per month. Upon graduation from Luther in May 1964, Darrell accepted a position in the home office of Principal Financial (Bankers Life). Deciding they didn’t want to eventually raise children in a larger city, Darrell accepted a management position with Interstate Power Company in Dubuque, in June of 1965. He served in district offices in Dubuque, Decorah, Mason City and eventually Clinton. In June 1972 he resigned from Interstate Power to become vice president and branch manager of Mutual Federal Savings and Loan in Charles City. In December of 1976, he accepted an offer with Security Bank and Trust Company (now Decorah Bank) to establish a mortgage loan department. After 15 years there, he retired as senior vice president and director of mortgage lending and marketing. He enjoyed this position immensely because he helped so many people acquire their homes. In January 1992, Interstate Power Company offered him a department head position for demand-side management at their Clinton district office after a 19 year absence from the company. When Interstate Power merged with two other utilities in 1998, Darrell accepted their early-retirement package and accepted a position of vice president of mortgage lending at 1st Central State Bank in Dewitt. Wanting to get closer to Decorah after his father’s death, he resigned that position to become the flood coordinator for Upper Explorerland, where he bought out the homes destroyed by the flood of May 1999 in the communities of Littleport, Volga, Garber and Elkader. He took great satisfaction in helping people who lost everything in this devastating flood. He retired Dec. 31, 2001, and he and Sondra headed to Biloxi, Miss. for the next three months to enjoy the beaches, sun, shrimp, oysters and crab. Darrell always gave back to the communities they lived in. Some of his activities include the following: one of the five Jaycees (plus Phyllis Leseth) who founded and originated the Nordic Fest, president of the 115 member Decorah Jaycees, Governor Bob Ray’s first Winneshiek County chairman, president of the Decorah Kilties Drum and Bugle Corps, president of the Decorah-Luther Quarterback Club, a member of the Decorah Airport Commission, president of the Winneshiek County Bankers, the state president of the Iowa Bankers Association, a Kiwanian in Mason City, a Rotarian in Decorah and a Lion in Clinton. He also was a board member of the Decorah Chamber of Commerce, and the chairman of the Viking Stadium locker and restroom project. Darrell’s many interests included Viking sports, Luther sports and the Iowa Hawkeyes. He loved the game of golf (he was proud to have scored two holes-in-one), cycling, kayaking, reading and fishing.

Darrell is survived by his mother, Evelyn Pierce; wife, Sondra Pierce; son, Scott Pierce (Lori) of Decorah; daughter, Cara Smith (Todd) of Decorah; son, Bartt Pierce (Nicole) of Shoreview, Minn.; six grandchildren: Breanne and Bryce Pierce, Soleil and Hogan Smith and Dijah and Hayden Pierce. Darrell also is survived by his brother, Steve Pierce (Carol) of Waterloo; sisters-and-brother-in-law; niece and nephews; and special uncle, Donald O. Johnson.

Darrell was preceded in death by his father, Merlyn C. Pierce; father-in-law, O. Vance Rosell; mother-in-law, Norma Rosell; and numerous aunts and uncles.

Memorials may be directed to WMC Hospice, 901 Montgomery Street, Decorah, IA 52101.

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