"Lots of friends and plenty of luck and the good fortune of being born in America. That is enough career for anyone."


W. H. Bill PierceThis is how William Harold Pierce summed up the highlights of his very interesting career. This is typical Pierconian. He led a very busy life exhibiting boundless energy and taking plenty of time to serve not only his beloved Oak Cliff, but metropolitan Dallas as well. He was known throughout Dallas as an outstanding individual, and was recognized nationally as well.

William Harold Pierce, known to his many friends and colleagues as "Bill," was born on July 17, 1909 in Carbondale, Illinois, the son of Mr. and Mrs. J. F. Pierce. He furthered his interest in the mortuary field by attending the St. Louis School of Embalming in St. Louis, Missouri. He married the former Gladys Naylor and upon moving to Dallas, Texas, they decided upon Oak Cliff as their future home. Bill's daughter, Nancy, a graduate of Southern Methodist University, currently serves as Vice President of the Pierce Companies. Mr. Pierce has one granddaughter, Janey, a CPA, and two great-grandsons, Cannon and Colton, who were his pride and joy.

Upon moving to the Oak Cliff area, Mr. Pierce established his own business in the middle of the 1930's - a dangerous period for any man to venture into business for himself. But he had courage and faith in America. He founded the Morticians Supply Company with an initial investment of $5,000 in Oak Cliff when the suburban area was far from being the large "city within a city" that it is today. But he had the courage of a born leader and a really outstanding businessman, and within a brief time, he was on the high road to business success. As Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the Pierce Companies, he saw his company grow from a small firm that served only the immediate area around Texas to one of the largest embalming chemical and funeral supply companies in the world. In 1990, Mr. Pierce acquired the Royal Bond Company in St. Louis. This brought him full circle because he launched his career in the funeral supply business with the Royal Bond Company in the 1930's. Along the way, the Armstrong Chemical Company, the Naturo Company and the Eureka Company have also become a part of Pierce Companies. With this enormous growth has come the establishment of Pierce Chemicals Royal Bond product centers not only in Dallas, but in Atlanta, Georgia; Jeffersonville, Indiana; St. Louis, Missouri; and Los Angeles, California.


Mr. Pierce's vision did not stop with just a successful company, however. Keenly interested in research and education in the mortuary sciences, he was also Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Pierce Mortuary Colleges, which consist of three of the leading funeral service colleges in the country. They are the Dallas Institute of Funeral Service in Dallas, Texas; the Gupton-Jones College of Funeral Service in Decatur (Atlanta), Georgia; and the Mid-America College of Funeral Service in Jeffersonville, Indiana. His efforts in assuring high standards of education within these colleges have been a significant factor in the continued and successful operation of these institutions.

His interests and efforts in mortuary education were not isolated to his own three schools, however. Going back just a few years to a time when there was a definite possibility that the entire structure of the national accreditation of all mortuary colleges might collapse, he helped materially in the restructuring of the American Board of Funeral Service Education and the successful resolution of problems among the various organizations that comprised the American Board.

Shortly after settling down in Oak Cliff, Bill joined into the civic life of the area. He was a former City Councilman and he also served as Mayor Pro-Tem of Dallas. He was a member of the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce and was named to important committees. Bill Pierce's genuine ability as a civic leader came later when he was President of the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce. It was during his administration that Oak Cliff experienced some of its most rapid growth from a business and industrial standpoint.

Some of his other involvements in the civic and community life include past presidency in the Texas Funeral Supply Sales Club and the Dallas Sales Executives Club. He was also president of the Citizen's Traffic Commission and the Citizen's Charter Association of Dallas. He also served as a Board member of the Dallas division of the Salvation Army Advisory Board, the Methodist Hospital of Dallas and also the Metropolitan Hospital Authority. He was an active member of the Oak Cliff Lions Club and for years was active in the affairs of the Kessler Park United Methodist Church. He was involved in so many aspects of the civic and community life of not only Oak Cliff, but Dallas as well, that a listing of some of his dealings are at the conclusion.

Socially, he was a member of and has helped direct many local and national clubs. One that is sure to be mentioned is the Oak Cliff Country Club as it enabled him to participate in his favorite "relaxation" - golf.

Early in his business career, Bill became intensely interested in the Optimist Club, a service club whose members specialize in taking the most optimistic view of things and also of doing good to their fellow man by putting into practice their happy view of life. Bill Pierce was not only just a member of the Optimist Club. He was a born optimist, and his friendly greeting and broad smile showed his real character. He managed to keep his good humor and optimistic outlook on life - factors that helped him through many a rough spot in a busy life.

As a leader in civic, community and social endeavors, Mr. Pierce was one of the busiest men in Dallas, participating in all the diverse undertakings that came to his attention. As a businessman, he started out as an entrepreneur in the truest sense of the word, causing situations and circumstances under his control to grow as only he was able to do. As an educator, Mr. Pierce never sought anything less than the best, which was indicative of the whole person of W. H. Pierce; whatever he did, he gave it his all and sought only the best for those involved.

Mrs. Gladys Pierce died on May 10, 1982. On January 1, 1983, Bill married Hazel Day from Fort Worth, who was a long time family friend. Mr. W. H. Pierce passed away in 1998. Mrs. Hazel Pierce has since passed away, but Mr. Pierce's legacy in funeral service education is carried on by his daughter, Nancy Pierce Barber, and his nephew, John W. Firestone.