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Gregory Wayne Pierce ’70

A picture of Gregory Pierce

Gregory Wayne Pierce ’70, July 8, 2012, in Seattle, Washington, from cancer. The son of Samuel Pierce ’43 and Lucille Harris Pierce ’43, Greg grew up in Eastmoreland and graduated from Cleveland High School. He began his undergraduate work at Willamette University before transferring to Reed, where he learned to kayak, gained an appreciation for the work of Joseph Conrad, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in economics. After Reed he went to the British Isles and worked on a farm in Scotland. In the spirit of Conrad, he traveled to Africa, taking passage on a barge on the Congo River. Throughout his life, a sense of adventure led him to further travels, many with his family, in Africa, Europe, and South America. He kayaked, rafted, and hiked in some of the most beautiful wilderness in North America. He competed in marathons, including two Boston Marathon events, even while undergoing treatment for the 12 years of cancer that eventually ended his life. Greg began his career as an economic analyst with the Oregon legislature and then worked for the Oregon Department of Revenue. He went on to earn an MA in economics from Tufts and worked for the Washington state legislature as a staff member for the state committee on ways and means—three years as staff director of the committee. He then served as deputy director for tax policy and administration with the Department of Revenue. In 1996, Greg signed on as a contract lobbyist for the Washington Roundtable. His public obituary reported: “Despite years spent working in a political environment, he eschewed partisanship as detrimental to the best interests of the state. As a result, he earned respect from members of both parties for his honesty, integrity, and ability to help bring together those with disparate points of view.” Hundreds gathered at his memorial service in Washington in July, including former governor, now Ambassador Gary Locke. Senate Minority Leader Mike Hewitt said of Greg, “He was a true professional. He was very, very good at what he did. His word was as good as gold.” Greg and Ann Knowles, a native of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, were married in 1974 and had two daughters, Alison VanDis and Kelsey. In 1995 he married Susan Nakagawa and had a son, Max. Other survivors include his mother, Lucille; a brother, Sam; and two sisters, Nancy Hogan and Julie Huisman. A particular joy was his one grandchild, two-year-old Olivia Lucille VanDis. The family requests that memorial gifts be made to Reed in Greg’s name.

Appeared in Reed magazine: December 2012

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