Obituary: Frank Jerome “Jerry” Peairs

Grandfather, accomplished civil engineer, U.S. Army veteran

Frank J. “Jerry” Peairs died at home on September 23 at the age of 82 after a long illness.

He was born May 20, 1940 to Adele Jeanette Stroup Peairs and Maurice “Marty” Crawford Peairs. Although a longtime resident of Upland, his early life was spent in Claremont, first on Dartmouth Avenue near where his parents had graduated from Scripps and Pomona colleges, and then in 1950 to what is now known as the Pitzer-Peairs House on North Towne Avenue.

Frank, who preferred to be called Jerry, attended Sycamore Elementary and Claremont High schools. After graduating he attended Chaffey College, worked at AeroJet General in Azusa, and as a draftsman in the Aetron Division of AeroJet in Covina.

He served in the U.S. Army from 1963 to 1965, including a tour near the Korean DMZ in the 3rd Battalion of the 81st Artillery, working with MGM-29 Sergeant missiles. Upon discharge he returned to college, graduating with honors from Cal Poly Pomona with a degree in civil engineering.

After graduation he was employed by the Riverside County Flood Control and Water Conservation District for more than 31 years, retiring as assistant chief engineer in 2000.  He was responsible for numerous flood control projects throughout western Riverside County, which included dams, debris basins, open channels, storm drains, and levees. He took particular pride in the Temescal Channel flood control project in Corona, which included cooperation with the City of Corona and CalTrans. It was a large and complex project involving numerous bridges and even two railroad bridges.

He was also very proud of a hydrologic methods manual he authored, which has been used to guide land development projects in Riverside County and is still in use today.

A colleague called him, “an engineer’s engineer … a wizard in hydrology and hydraulics.”

Besides his work, he had a lifelong love of cars and drag racing, and in his youth built and raced a dragster with friends. He also had a passion for the art of fruit crate labels that were so prevalent in the packing houses and citrus fields that surrounded him growing up.

He was always generous and available for anyone who needed help or guidance, to the point that many friends and coworkers considered him to be family.

He married Lillian Marie Gude of Upland on April 11, 1964, at Saint Joseph’s Parish in Upland, a union which lasted 57 years until her death in 2021. He was also predeceased by his mother, Adele Jeanette Stroup Peairs, and his father, Maurice “Marty” Crawford Peairs.

He is survived by two sons, Maurice “Maury” Jay Peairs and Kevin Alan Peairs; daughter-in-law, Jennifer M. Grandchamp Peairs; grandchildren, Caitlyn Marie Peairs, Christopher Marcus Peairs and Charlotte Johanna Peairs, all of Upland; brother, David Alan Peairs and sister-in-law, Patti S. Peairs of Thousand Oaks; sisters, Florence Patricia Peairs Adams of Mill Valley, and Judith Virginia Peairs of Claremont.

Mr. Peairs was a Life Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, The American Legion, The Veterans of Foreign Wars, The National Rifle Association, and The California Rifle and Pistol Association.

There will be a funeral Mass and memorial at 10 a.m. Friday, October 21 at Saint Anthony’s Parish, 2110 N. San Antonio Ave., Upland, CA 91784. Those unable to attend may view it at  facebook.com/stanthonyupland. Burial will be private with family in attendance.

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