West Seattle Blog… | Remembering Lawrence Colman Pierce, 1936-2021


Family and friends remember Larry Pierce and shares his story with the community:

Lawrence (“Larry”) Colman Pierce, devoted husband and father, died of cancer on Thursday, July 22, 2021 with his loving family at Virginia Mason Medical Center. He was 84.

Larry was born on December 24, 1936 in Seattle to the late Lawrence and Isabel (Colman) Pierce. He grew up in West Seattle and graduated from West Seattle High School in 1955 and from Yale University in 1959. In 1961 he married his high school lover Robin E. Gaffner (1937-1985), also from West Seattle. After several years in the US Navy as a junior class lieutenant, Larry attended Cornell University and earned an MPA in public administration and finance. A Fulbright scholarship took him to the University of the West Indies for two years to pursue a degree in administration. He returned for a Ph.D. back to Cornell. in government and then settled with Robin in Eugene, Oregon, where they had a son, Eric. At the University of Oregon, Larry served as Professor of Political Science, Chairholder, Assistant to the University President, and Assistant to the Registrar of the University of Oregon System. After leaving Oregon, he spent several months as a postdoctoral fellow at Oxford Brookes College, Oxford University.

Larry moved to Baton Rouge in 1990 to become dean of the College of Education at Louisiana State University. There he met Donna L. Mealey, a professor of literacy, and they married in 1992. They moved to Seattle in 1996 to raise daughters Emma and Katie. From 1996 to 1999, Larry was a research professor at the Center for Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Affairs before retiring to enjoy his young family. He built a house on Horsehead Bay in Gig Harbor and planted and tended a large garden on the beloved family property, the original location of Camp Colman, before moving to Longbranch in 1966.

Larry served on the boards of the Westside School and White Center Food Bank, and served as President and Treasurer of the Food Bank for several years. He also served on the board of directors of the West Seattle Monogram Club and chaired the scholarship committee. Along with fellow community members, he was instrumental in bringing the International Baccalaureate program to Chief Sealth International High School and arranged for college admissions representatives from across the country to brief students about schools outside the Pacific Northwest. He has served as a moderator for Fauntleroy Church United Church of Christ, served in the Treasury Department, helped direct a capital campaign, and was a dedicated member of the choir’s tenor department.

Larry leaves behind his 28-year-old loving wife, Donna of Seattle; Son Eric and daughter Katie from Seattle; Daughter Emma from Cambridge, Massachusetts; Twin sister Katharine Ramfield of Hood River; Brother dr John Pierce and sister-in-law Leilia of Gig Harbor; and a big, lovely extended family. Throughout his life he loved good books, choral music, national and world politics and, above all, gardening. He loved sharing cuttings with friends, growing plants for the church’s annual plant sale, and donating the fruit and vegetable generosity of his garden to the White Center Food Bank. We will miss his steadfastness, patience, integrity, silent humor, devotion, kindness, love, buttermilk pancakes, berry cakes, and professorial lectures at Thanksgiving dinners.

A memorial service will be held at Fauntleroy Church in West Seattle in late August. Instead of flowers, the family welcomes memorial donations to the White Center Food Bank and YMCA Camp Colman. Memories and condolences to the family can be written in the comments below.

(WSB published Obituaries in West Seattle free of charge on request. Please send the text and, if available, a photo to editor@westseattleblog.com)