On Thanksgiving night, Thursday the 24th, my uncle, Donald Pearce, passed. He was 94.
Donald was married to my mother's sister, Violet. Violet, seventeen years older than my mother, passed before I was born. But together Donald and Violet produced my cousin, Susan, who is more a big-sister to me as she lived with us on and off while I was growing up and she's lived in Austin since 2000 or so. Donald remarried, and so I grew up with an Aunt Vivian, who passed away when I was in college.
My earliest memories include Donald visiting us when we still lived in Michigan, so I was 3 or 4. But he was a fixture in my life as we'd visit he Upper Peninsula of Michigan every summer where he and Vivian lived, and they were avid road travelers, so you never knew when they'd roll up in the driveway and we'd get to have them for a while. He was always quick with a joke and to make observations that hilariously cut to the point with a matter-of-factness that hit just the right note.
Donald worked innumerable jobs - many simultaneously, everything from owning and running a restaurant to driving school buses and being a mechanic for the local school district. It was more a matter of what couldn't Donald do, and he tried a lot of things. You never knew when he'd toss out yet another prior occupation in conversation. But I think he'd really enjoyed that restaurant.
He had a head for trivia and sports, and I could never keep up with his encyclopedic knowledge of football and baseball, but he also loved track and field and kind of whatever was on or he could travel to go see, from basketball games to motorsports. I never debated him on a team's chances - I figured he knew better than me.
Famously, after moving to Florida for retirement, Donald developed a Clark Griswold-like penchant for Christmas lights, and a highlight every year was seeing how he'd done his house inside and out as he sent pictures with the Christmas card. It was always a show and I imagine the neighbors were sleeping with blinders on.
In 2009, he moved to Austin and into an assisted living facility here. We've been fortunate to be near him and see him frequently. As COVID hit, my parents and Susan were on the list of allowed visitors, so he did get some company on a regular basis. We were able to have a family gathering on his birthday this Fall.
No one's passing is easy, and this is no different. I don't have a short and easy description of him, and I wish I did. He was kind, and funny and cared about people. He was his own guy in ways I appreciate more with every year.
Donald has us in Texas, but his nieces live in Michigan. 94 gave him time for many people to love him, and I am grateful for the time we had.
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