Opinion: Remembering my uncle’s full life


My Uncle Bob Pierce died last week. He was 94, and he and my Aunt Tiny would have been married for 75 years come April.

They were quite literally a dynamic duo, and I’m sure God put them together deliberately and then broke the mold. Their lives were so intertwined that I can’t write about one without including the other. Tiny is 95 now, and except for being a little shorter and slower than she used to be, still going strong.

She and Bob nourished each other every day, I think, and the litany of their accomplishments over the years is nothing short of awesome.

My first memory came when I was three years old. Bob and Tiny weren’t married yet, but they were already finishing one another’s sentences. I recall they laughed a lot and seemed to share jokes no one else knew about.

Bob was fascinated by anything new. When World War II ended, a man named Duncan invented the yo-yo and hired demonstrators to show them off. Bob could do everything with a yo-yo: Walk the Dog, Around the World, you name it. If a yo-yo could do it, Bob could make it happen. While the craze lasted, he sold a lot of yo-yos.

A couple years later he bought one of the first Saab automobiles. It had a two-cylinder, two-stroke engine that generated 25 horsepower at 65 miles an hour. Years later I recognized that the whirring sound it made was the same sound my lawnmower made.

Bob had a lot of fun with the car because it looked weird, got great gas mileage and because the gas and oil were mixed together, he could tell the startled gas station attendant to “pour a quart of oil in the gas tank.” He chuckled about that for years.

When the sport of Volkswalking migrated from Germany to the United States, Bob and Tiny joined the throng. The events featured a six-mile walk through a scenic area in every state, and before they hung up their walking shoes, my aunt and uncle had Volkswalked in all 50 states. Oregon, I believe, was done in a torrential rain, and they saw “nothing but the mud in front of us.” They kept saying they wanted to go back and do that one over.

“Maybe we can see something next time,” he said.

When Tiny was 84, she finished the Mini-Marathon. Then to prove it wasn’t a lark, she did it again the next year. Bob was in the cheering section both times.

Life for them was joyful, even when times were hard. Instead of a funeral, Tiny told me she would plan a memorial in April.

“To celebrate our 75th anniversary,” she said.