John H. Pearce, 1927-2008

From the Chicago Tribune:

John H. Pearce, a Naperville resident since 1965, died June 9, 2008 at Edward Hospital. Born Aug. 21, 1927 in Terre Haute, IN. He is survived by his wife, Elvina; a brother, Frank G. Pearce of El Macero, CA; and eight nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Fred and Irene Pearce; a brother, Milton Pearce; and two sisters, Genevieve McWilliams and Dorothy Shea. A memorial visitation celebrating John’s life will be held on Friday, June 13, 5 until 9 p.m. at the Friedrich-Jones Funeral Home, 44 S. Mill, Naperville. In lieu of flowers, memorials in John’s honor may be made to the Interlochen Center for the Arts, 4000 Highway M-137, Interlochen, MI 49643. For info, 630-355-0213.

Mr. Pearce, as he was know to us students at the time, was my high school music teacher. He was flamboyant, full of energy, a perfectionist determined to bring out the best in us by constantly challenging what we thought were our limits. As a member of the Madrigals he tuned and tweaked our sound to, for a high school group, near perfection. We were the first ever high school group invited to perform for the Music Educators National Conference in Cincinnati, and as a result of that performance, were invited to the American Choral Directors Association national conference in Indianapolis.

He was the first music director at NCHS to stage full musicals. During my four years, he staged Kismet, My Fair Lady, Annie Get Your Gun, and Flower Drum Song, but went on to do most of the classic broadway musicals. He made every student, regardless of whether they were the stars or the stage crew, feel their importance to the production. He cracked the whip when he needed to, and seemed to give everyone singular attention.

He is survived by his wife Elvina Pearce, who was the quiet solid foundation to his brilliance. Sans pay, she was the accompanist who helped sort things out during evening and weekend rehearsals, and kept him on an even keel with her quiet elegance, traits that still shine today.

If you are so inclined, think about who influenced you when you were in high school. A good teacher leaves a lasting improvement for the lives of many others. If you care to read what a bunch of other 40++ somethings think about their high school music teacher, you can read some here.

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2 Responses to “John H. Pearce, 1927-2008”

  1. Kathy Says:

    Mr. Pearce was the first choir director at Thornridge High School in Dolton, 1960-1963. I was his piano student and also the choral accompanist the last year he taught at Thornridge. He introduced me to the Russian piano composers and always encouraged me to push the boundaries with challenging music. Mr. Pearce had amazing energy, talent, flair, and drive. I never new Elvina, but am happy to know they had a long life together.
    Kathy Tydd Bergee – Thornridge Class of 1964

    • George mcgee Says:

      He saw something in me that no one else had…he encouraged me, he taught me and served as a role model for me…he was a great teacher.


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