He lived in Kingsport more than 66 years and retired from Tennessee Eastman Company’s Comptroller’s Division after more than 37 years where he was a certified internal auditor.
He is preceded in death by his wife of 47 years, Vanira (Norie) Walker Pierce; his parents, Walter Eldridge Pierce, Sr. and Lelia Anne Vivian Stansell Pierce; his brother Jack Stansell Pierce and his wife Jo Anne.
Walter is survived by daughter Nancy Pierce Knisley and son-in-law Reverend Mark L. Knisley; daughter Linda Pierce Fisher; and son Walter E. (Pete) Pierce, III and daughter-in-law Andrea Davison Pierce.
He has 11 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren—the 23rd due in January. Additionally, his legacy comprises five generations with his name; a grandson (Walter E., IV) and great-grandson (Walter E., V).
He grew up in Burlington, North Carolina, where he attended Fisher Street School through the third grade and Hillcrest School through the 10th grade. He entered Burlington High School for the 11th grade and graduated in 1939 at age 16.
Walter attended Guilford College in Guilford, North Carolina, following World War II and later attended Emory University but his studies there were interrupted by his Korean War service. He graduated in 1953 Magna Cum Laude from Emory University with a Bachelor of Business Administration and in 1976 with a Master of Business Administration from East Tennessee State University.
He served more than 35 years with multiple tours on active duty in the U.S. Navy and the Naval Reserve. World War II service included the Pacific Theater: Ulithi, Guam, the Philippines and Okinawa. He actively served in the Korean War and the Naval Reserve during the Viet Nam War. He retired from the U. S. Navy in 1982 as a Command Master Chief (E-9).
Walter was an active member of First Baptist Church where he served as church treasurer, Deacon and Sunday school class president and teacher. He was a lifetime member and Post Chaplain of the American Legion Hammond Post 3 and a member of the Veterans of Foreign War. He has been an active member of Toastmasters; Destroyer Escort Sailors Association; Korean War Veterans and a lifetime member of MENSA.
He followed and encouraged a family tradition of military service with his great grandfather having served in the Confederate Army during the War Between the States; his father served in the U. S. Navy during World War I and World War II; and his brother served in the U. S. Navy during World War II. That tradition continued with his daughter, Linda, retiring from the U. S. Army Reserve with more than 20 years of service as a nurse; his son, Pete, retiring from active service with the U. S. Army after 20 years and his nephew Harvey “Nat”, retiring after 20 years of active service with the U. S. Air Force. Two of his grandsons currently serve in the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force and a granddaughter served in the U.S. Army.
Walter enjoyed traveling, with trips to 48 countries, continuing to travel independently well into his 90s following his wife’s death. Additionally, he participated in four mission trips to Honduras, of which he was quite proud.
He will be long-remembered for his gentlemanly manners, always kissing a lady’s hand, and his impeccable dress, seven days a week, no exception, which included a freshly-cleaned and pressed suit with pocket square, French-cuffed long-sleeve shirt and his many unique double Windsor-knot ties.
Donations in his name in lieu of flowers may be made to First Baptist Church, 200 West Church Circle, Kingsport, Tennessee 37660 or American Legion Hammond Post 3, 301 Louis Street, Suite 301, Kingsport, Tennessee 37660.
The family will receive friends at Carter Trent Funeral Home in downtown Kingsport from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. Friday, November 9, 2018.
The funeral service will take place at First Baptist Church, Kingsport, 10:00 a.m. Saturday, November 10, 2018 with military graveside service at East Tennessee Cemetery immediately following. American Legion Hammond Post #3/265 will be performing military rites.
Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.cartertrent.com.
Carter-Trent Funeral Home in downtown Kingsport is proudly serving the Pierce family.