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Mary Claire (Abair) Pierce was born to Mary Ann and Barney Abaire in Waterbury, Vt., on Aug. 5, 1927. She was the second oldest of seven: Andrew, Edward, Robert, Paul, Joseph and Bernadette. She has now gone to be with them all.
Mary was married to Harland Pierce in Vermont on March 22, 1947, and they became parents of nine: Mary Etta, Linda, William (Bill), Rita, Harland Jr. (Butch), Robert (Bob), Barney (Buck), Bruce and Bradley.
This family started out in Vermont and grew as they traveled west. Harland was a truck driver and heavy equipment operator, so the family traveled to where the work was and their children were born in Vermont, South Dakota, and various places in Colorado.
As this family grew up, they were great outdoor enthusiasts. Mary would pack up camping and picnic supplies (no small feat for a family of 11, plus a few extras) and off they would go for a few days of fishing, food and fun at a mountain lake or stream; or sometimes to dig fishing worms because that was how the kids made spending money — selling fishing worms at $1 per 100. (That is a penny a piece, for all you fishermen.)
Mary enjoyed gardening and providing for her family in every way. Laundry days and bread-making days (10 loaves at a time) were times to behold (We had a horse that liked to unclip clothes pins). She spent a lot of time on the road between home and Harland’s work as she carried parts and supplies to him and his crews. Later they owned and operated Mary’s Laundry and Dry Cleaning (and car wash). Mary continued to run that business after Harland’s death in 1983 until a heart attack in 1997 compelled her to sell out. Later she became a “drug runner” for Jackisch Drug as she delivered prescriptions.
Mary’s family continued to grow. She now has seven living children: Mary Etta (Darrell) Ault of Jessieville, Ark., Linda (Harvey) Cundiff of Bayfield; Bill (Shirley) Pierce of Maud, Texas; Rita Strickland of Pagosa Springs; Buck (Shari) Pierce of Pagosa Springs; Bruce (Tammy) of Elmo, Utah; and Brad, of the family home. She also had 19 grandchildren (plus 12 spouses) and 26 great grandchildren, and nieces and nephews across the 50 states, along with a multitude of people who call her Mom, Grandma, mentor and friend.
Mary was preceded in death by her husband, Harland; and sons, Bob and Butch. She left this life to join them on Feb. 28 from her family home while surrounded by family.
Services were held Monday, March 10, at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church. Burial was at Hilltop Cemetery.