Foothill Country Day bids farewell to longest-serving staff member

In 1965, Lyndon Johnson was in his second full year as president, 34 people died in the Watts riots, the average American home cost $13,500, the Beatles had five number-one hits and Eleanor Pierson reported for her first day of work at Foothill Country Day School.

Last Friday, current staff, students and a few members of the community came to honor Ms. Pierson’s last day of work, a tenure that spanned 50 years.

With a giant bouquet of flowers on her lap Ms. Pierson, 94, sat in a chair at the front of the assembly room while the students sang the school’s theme song and Head of School Mike Silva spoke of her dedication and devotion to her job.

She held three jobs at FCDS: first she was assistant to the headmaster Howell Webb, next she moved to admissions director and then toward the end, became the community outreach coordinator. As the outreach coordinator, her years of service came in handy because she was able to pen handwritten personal notes to the alumni.

Claremont Mayor Corey Calaycay gave her an official city commendation, a task he gladly accepted as he is among the school’s alumni.

In his remarks, Mr. Calaycay stated that he only barely qualified for admission but that Ms. Pierson decided to accept him. “I hope you feel that you made the right call,” he quipped.

“Not many people work this long and even fewer at the same place,” he said. “You of all people deserve this retirement.”

Mr. Silva’s comments focused not only on Ms. Pierson’s years of service but also on the many lives that she influenced. “You have prepared so many students for their next phase in life,” he said. “It has been our honor and privilege to have served with you.”

Ms. Pierson’s son, Doug Pierson, came from Arizona for the party and to help his mother with the transition. He said that Ms. Pierson believed in the school so much that she enrolled him and his two sisters there.

She grew up on a lemon ranch not far from the north Claremont home where she still lives. She attended Claremont Elementary School, now Sycamore, followed by Girls Collegiate and eventually Pomona College. Ms Pierson is also one of the charter parents at FCDS, enrolling her daughter in 1954.

Following the assembly, a handful of former students stood in line to congratulate Ms. Pierson and to thank her for the impact she had on them. Each shared a personal story, with the commonality that all seemed to agree Ms. Pierson made them feel important.

It apparently worked both ways, because as the crowd slowly made their way to the nearby reception, Ms Pierson looked around and said, “I loved working here, I don’t want to retire.”

Steven Felschundneff


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