Cover photo for Stanley Pearson's Obituary
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Stanley Pearson

October 22, 1942 — August 28, 2023

Stanley Pearson

On behalf of my father’s wife Jane, my brother, his family, our mother Becky, and all the grandchildren, nieces, and nephews, I offer the following tribute to my father, unapologetically written as his oldest son. Our father died on August 28, 2023. Stanley Pearson (Stan to those who knew him), was, indeed, a much beloved husband, father, and grandfather. He was famously quick with a retort. (Like his only intuitively understood moniker for a cheapskate that went “he’s tighter than Dick’s hatband.” To this day, we don’t know who Dick was or why everyone seemed to intuit the leap from hatband to cheap.) Our father loved to laugh, tell stories, and pass the time with other veterans talking about experiences only they shared in and knew of. I often think these are realities that my younger brother who served in Desert Storm holds secret as well. My brother Stan, Jr., was, in fact, on duty the morning our father passed. Insistently, our father wanted to pass in his chair, in the home he shared with his loving wife Jane, in Gaylord; the place they called home for over 20 years.

My father was born in 1942 in Jackson, Michigan, to parents Frank and June Pearson. Frank Pearson was employed at Pillsbury then, but later, after his second son Roger was born, took a position at Wayne Wire Tool and Dye, in Kalkaska, Michigan. Our father, and his brother Roger, were joined later by brothers Steve and Leon after moving to Kalkaska. The young boys grew up on Valley Road, in Rapid City. In a small house near the river, the Pearson brothers grew to love the outdoors; fishing and hunting together more often than their school days allowed. My father’s early experiences growing up on the Rapid River set in him a deep and abiding love for deer camp, opening day of fishing season, chasing salmon, running rabbits the way only beagles can, and hunting over his favorite bird dog. These traditions would later help make his family a family.

Sadly, though, my father’s brother Steve passed in circumstances only those who suffer from addiction can understand. My father understood Steve in that way, in an understanding of his daily struggle. After Steve passed, my father remained close to Steve’s wonderful daughter Tressia. Tressia’s family has been a meet up each summer we all look forward to.

At a time when young men of his generation went off to work or to war, our father enlisted in the Army in 1960 and served until 1980. He first served in Korea and in 1968 was sent to Vietnam, where he saw action during the Tet Offensive and was awarded the Bronze Star for heroism. Deciding to continue his military service after Vietnam, we joined him as a family for three tours of duty in Germany, one in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and two at Fort Riley, Kansas. During his service in Germany, our father was commissioned as a Chief Warrant Officer, eventually achieving the rank of Warrant Officer 2 (CW2).

As for many veterans, the effects of service take their toll. One memory, in particular, we share as a family was the nightly waking up of my father from the couch. Back then, in and among the sweeter reminisces of times gone, there was an insistence on dinner at the table. Salad in a bowl, not on the plate, options of Thousand Islands dressing or nothing, potatoes, and pork or beef. As an army brat herself, and as an army wife running a home dedicated to military service, our mother’s dedication always ensured that these nightly dinners ran to plan. But our dad was a fitful sleeper. Borne of his time in Vietnam, waking him from sleep risked a flailing slap as he panicked, and prepared to fight or flee. Eventually, we resorted to using a long broom handle to nudge him from across the room. Little did we know then that the terrible waking we witnessed foretold of his inevitable PTSD diagnosis.

While in the Army, our family bond was strengthened through a shared love of the outdoors. And like our father, we developed a love of hunting and fishing that sometimes conflicted with, well, everything.  And from our mom, we developed the grit and stamina that only a mother, who held us together through the hardships of deployments in faraway places, could impart. 

With retirement from the Army, came more time for our dad to enjoy a rich life with his family. No doubt, his favorite activity during his later years was camping with his wife Jane and two grandchildren, Evan and Olivia. I admit fully to feeling envious at this point. My brother’s family, his kids Oliva and Evan, their mother Amy, were the crowning joy of his later years. My wife Carol and I, did our best to horn in on some of that joy by spending a week each summer in a house on Lake Charlevoix or Elk Lake. These were times when all grievances melted away, all hurts gave way to the grander cause of being a family. Our mom came each year, and so alongside Dad, Jane, Stanley, Amy, Carol and I, with Olivia and Evan playing somewhere nearby, we cooked, grilled, talked and laughed—all the while living side by side. And so, for one week each summer, we became a lovely and joyous extended family.

Dad’s time spent with his half-sister Ami Jo Fisher and her husband was also incredibly rewarding. Dad liked the feeling of being a big brother to his little sister. Vying for his time with immediate family was Dad’s relish for spending time with his many nieces, nephews, and cousins. 

After first and second life chapters marked by career and life success, having raised two sons, advanced from a private to an officer, and retired from the military to become the school district’s transportation superintendent for Gaylord, it was my father’s great good fortune to enjoy a rich and full last chapter, loved and cared for by his wife Jane.

I say this with great pride: Our father did not graduate from high school, eventually receiving his GED; he joined the Army as a private enlistee at the age of sixteen and was promoted from an NCO to Chief Warrant Officer; he married our mother, raised two sons and we stand here today loved and cared for by our own families; he served in Korea and Vietnam, and was awarded the Bronze Star. His story, his achievements, his life of service to our country, inspire us today and are the things we celebrate to grieve his passing.

I stand by one last sentiment. Mother or father, a death of a parent is painful. A death of a father for sons is distinct in this respect. For sons, life often feels like a long walk down a hallway to meet yourself in your father. My brother and I have done that now.  And we stand proud in that meeting place. 

Visitation will take place from 4:00 to 7:00 PM Wednesday, September 6, 2023, at Gaylord Community Funeral Home & Cremation Service. Funeral services will take place 11:00 AM Thursday, September 7, 2023, also at the funeral home where the family will visit with friends beginning at 10:00 AM. Burial will follow at Fairview Cemetery with Military Honors.

In memory of Stan’s life, donations in his name are being accepted at Tight Lines for Troops: https://tightlinesfortroops.com/ in Manistee, MI or to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital: https://www.stjude.org/donate/donate-to-st-jude.html?dedication=1&sc_icid=impactgiving-memorial-bttn

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Past Services

Visitation

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

4:00 - 7:00 pm (Eastern time)

Gaylord Community Funeral Home & Cremation Service

850 N. Center Ave. / P.O. Box 249, Gaylord, MI 49734

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Visitation

Thursday, September 7, 2023

10:00 - 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Gaylord Community Funeral Home & Cremation Service

850 N. Center Ave. / P.O. Box 249, Gaylord, MI 49734

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Funeral Service

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Gaylord Community Funeral Home & Cremation Service

850 N. Center Ave. / P.O. Box 249, Gaylord, MI 49734

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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