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Claremont Courier - A Local Nonprofit Newsroom

Edward Joseph Piercy

Grocer, veteran, loving husband and father

Edward Joseph Piercy, a longtime Upland resident, died on July 7, 2013 at Parkview Community Hospital in Riverside, California.

Mr. Piercy was born on August 28, 1920 in Streater, Illinois. His mother died when he was only 3 and soon after, his one-year-old brother died in a house fire. He, a sister and his remaining 2 brothers were sent to live with various relatives.

Mr. Piercy was sent to Visalia, California to be raised by his grandparents, Thomas and Mary Ann Piercy. It was a bit of a culture shock for him at first because his grandparents were English with thick accents, but they provided a loving home. He grew up on their central California ranch, picking fruit off the trees and learning to shoot a gun when he was 6 and to drive when he was 11.

From time to time, he would visit his father in southern California. On one such occasion, he was leaving a store in Long Beach when the 1933 Long Beach Earthquake, a 6.4 temblor that caused widespread damage, struck. Bricks rained on his bike, but he was able to duck them and pedal home.

On another visit, Mr. Piercy, then only 15, met the love of his life. He had hitchhiked to Los Angeles and was walking through an LA neighborhood when he passed a home on whose porch was sitting the future Mrs. Piercy. Carmen Marie Rencoret, only 13, was listening to jitterbug music with her 2 sisters and boldly called out to young Edward, “Hey, boy, do you know how to jitterbug?”

Though he felt a bit shy around the gaggle of girls, he struck up a conversation and Carmen “just fell for him.” He began visiting her regularly and made friends with the entire Rencoret family, who took him under their collective wing. Later, Carmen and he became classmates at Freemont High School in Los Angeles.

In 1941, Mr. Piercy married his beloved Carmen, a union that would last for 51 years until Mrs. Piercy’s death. Soon after, he joined the US Navy, serving in the Pacific Theatre for 4 years during World War II. He was first stationed on a transport ship and later served as a gunner.

When Mr. Piercy was in port in the United States, trading exotic locales like New Hebrides for leave in cities like San Francisco and San Diego, Mrs. Piercy would meet him and rent a place where they could stay together for the duration.

Once Mr. Piercy was honorably discharged, he returned to civilian life, settling in Upland. Mr. Piercy worked in the grocery industry, including a long tenure at the Market Basket supermarket, while Mrs. Piercy stayed home with their family of 3 girls and 2 boys.

Each summer, the Piercys would pack up and go camping, enjoying fishing and cookouts in places like Yosemite and Bass Lake. Mr. Piercy was a loving father, his family shared, tickling his children and carrying them on his shoulders when they were small and supporting them in all their endeavors when they became adults.

Once the kids were grown, the Piercys bought a historic home in Ontario, where they stayed until Mrs. Piercy’s death in 1992. An avid gardener, Mr. Piercy tended the grounds, making sure that there were flourishing trees with fruit for the picking. He and his wife also took the opportunity to travel, including one notable trip to England where they stayed in a bed and breakfast and made themselves at home for a month.

There was an ageless, Jack LaLane-esque quality to Mr. Piercy. When his granddaughter opened a coffee shop, Mr. Piercy, 86, would ride his bike from Ontario to Upland each morning, making coffee and juice and opening the store.

While his children are missing him, they derive comfort from memories of life with their father.

“We weren’t rich, we were just happy,” his daughter Mary Linda recalled. “What we had was love. It was almost like a ‘Leave It to Beaver’ life.”

Mr. Piercy was preceded in death by his wife, Carmina Marie Piercy. He is survived by his children, Edward Joseph Piercy Jr., Mary Linda Piercy, Sharon Lee Watson, Ronald Victor Piercy and Pamela Jane Frink; by 14 grandchildren and by 9 great grandchildren.

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