Audrey B. Pierce died at her home in Trappe, Maryland, on August 31, 2009. She was 71.
She and her twin sister, Wendy, were born prematurely in April 1938 at Sloane Maternity Hospital in New York City, the daughters of William Byam and Audrey Wupperman. She was raised in Yonkers, NY, and graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1956. She attended St. Luke’s School of Nursing and eventually was credentialed as an x-ray technician.
Audrey married John J. Buchanan in 1958. They had three children and moved to Arizona. She was active in the Junior League of Phoenix and served as a volunteer for the Arizona School of Mentally Retarded Children.
The family then moved to Portola Valley, CA, where the marriage ended in divorce. After some years as a single working mother with three children, she married the Rev. Nathaniel W. Pierce in 1975 and they moved to Nampa, Idaho. There she served as a member of the Nampa Mayor’s Committee on the Needs of the Handicapped and the Canyon County Youth Advisory Committee.
Audrey was also involved in starting a nonprofit Hospice program in southwestern Idaho. She served as a caring, bedside volunteer for five years and the Assistant Coordinator of Volunteers for three years. In 1982 she and her husband spent a week at St. Christopher’s Hospice in London and participated in various seminars with Dame Cicely Mary Saunders, OM, DBE, a prominent Anglican nurse, and Dr. Colin Murray Parkes, a psychiatrist, who were early proponents of the Hospice movement.
She was a founding member of Canyon County Citizens for Peace. This group, which included two Roman Catholic nuns, attempted to block the “White Train” as it traveled through Nampa. The train was transporting nuclear warheads for Trident missiles based in the Puget Sound. It was painted white to reduce the interior temperature of the refrigerated boxcars. (An elevated temperature increased the risk that the bomb triggers would detonate while in transit.)
The railroad, which monitored her activities and watched her home, never admitted that such a train existed, but TV footage of it with machine gun turrets at both ends roaring through Nampa at 50 mph was prominently featured on the local evening news. Seven protestors were arrested (later dubbed the Nampa 7); much to her dismay, the police refused to arrest her because she was a pastor’s wife.
In 1984 Audrey moved with her husband to Brookline, MA. She became involved with the League of Women Voters and served as President in 1989. She initiated a Hazardous Waste Collection day and was an early advocate of curbside recycling which was adopted by the Town. In addition she was a member of the Board of the Ruggles Street Mission Day Care Center and served as Volunteer Coordinator for the Interfaith Aids Ministry of greater Boston.
In 1991 the family moved to Cambridge, MD. There she served as a Board member of the Tidewater Performing Arts Society and the Dorchester Arts Center. She accepted the position of Volunteer Coordinator for the Dorchester County Department of Social Services (initially an unpaid position) where she worked with the legendary Director, Isabelle Fisch, to involve the residents of Dorchester County in numerous programs to assist “at risk” children, adults, and seniors.
Audrey came to recognize that there were inadequate resources available to meet some of the unique financial needs of DSS clients. After working through numerous “turf” battles, The Care and Share Fund was founded in 1998 thanks to her persistent leadership. Its mission continues to this day: to serve vulnerable children and adults in Dorchester County.
An avid boater since childhood, Audrey revived the long dormant Junior Sailing program at the Cambridge Yacht Club in 1992 and ran the program for seven years. She established a scholarship fund and actively recruited young black children from Dorchester County to participate, one of whom was invited to compete in the USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festival in July 1998 on Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island. In recent years two young sailors have been presented with the Audrey B. Pierce Award for Sportsmanship during the awards ceremony at the end of each session.
She loved animals as well (a visit to a zoo was always special) and co-chaired the first Fun Dog Show in 1998 sponsored by Christ Episcopal Church in Cambridge. A portion of the proceeds has always been donated to the Humane Society of Dorchester County.
Throughout her life Audrey worked to help those in need. With her quiet determination and personal commitment she achieved remarkable results.
Perhaps, though, she is best remembered by many for the large, outrageous hats she loved to wear in church and on other occasions. She also thoroughly enjoyed cooking, especially for the annual Open House at the Church Rectory for which she would prepare all the food.
She survived ovarian cancer in 1998 but became completely disabled in May 2001. Her health gradually declined, a challenge which she faced with grace and courage.
She is survived by her husband, the Rev. Nathaniel W. Pierce, her twin sister, Wendy Meyer of White Plains, NY, and her three children: John Buchanan of Santa Cruz, CA; Rebecca Buchanan of Lawrence, KS; and Alice Kuhn of Topeka, KS. Additional survivors include her step-mother, Evelyn Minter of Hilton Head, SC; her half brother, William Byam of Hilton Head, SC; her half-sister, Virginia Brooks Hochberg of NY; her first cousins, Gail Banner, Suzanne Banner, and Edwin Banner; seven nephews and nieces; and the family’s pets, Chip (dog) and Mercury (cat). Peter Banner, a cousin, and Jessica Lynn Byam, a niece, predeceased her.
A celebration of her life will be held at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, 6457 Quantico Road, Quantico, MD, on Thursday, September 3, at 2:00 pm. The Rt. Rev. James Shand, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Easton, will preach and celebrate. A reception will follow the service in the Parish Hall. An inurnment will be scheduled at a later date in the family burial plot at The Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, NY.
The family requests that no flowers be sent. Memorial contributions may be sent to the Audrey B. Pierce Fund, c/o Mid-Shore Community Foundation, 102 East Dover Street, Easton, MD 21601.
Arrangements are entrusted to Curran-Bromwell Funeral Home, P.A., Cambridge, MD. To send letters of condolences, please visit www.curran-bromwell.com
April 17, 1938
Place of Birth:
New York, NY USA
August 31, 2009
Place of Death:
Trappe, MD USA
Celebration of Life
Thursday September 3, 2009 , 2:00 P.M. at St. Philip's Episcopal Church Share your thoughts and memories in the guestbook.
Audrey B. Pierce Fund, c/o Mid-Shore Community Foundation, 102 East Dover Street, Easton, MD 21601