Shirley Pearce

Published 3:55 pm Thursday, February 16, 2023

Shirley Pearce made the heavenly trip to be with her family, and all of her lifelong friends, on February 14, 2023.

With that she signed off with the words, “they’re serving old dry cake.”

If you didn’t know Shirley that may sound strange, but for those who knew her, knew this was to be expected…When she had something to say she was not shy about saying it.

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And when it came to opinions, she had many and felt that it was her responsibility to share those opinions. She never overlooked the opportunity to tell you exactly what she thought about you, your situation, or anybody else’s situation.

As outspoken as she was, she had many friends that loved her frank and honest nature.

Born in the Johnston family home on 10th street in Port Arthur, Shirley was the youngest of four children.

She had two older brothers, Raymond and Jack Johnston, and an older sister, Rowena (Kessler).

Being the baby of the family and born ten years after her nearest sibling, Shirley was given the short-lived nickname “Unee” by her father.

When she later asked where the nickname came from, her father told her it was because her birth was … unexpected.

Shirley had many fond memories of growing up on 10th street. She had many stories about her neighborhood, a neighborhood alive with kids of all ages.

Most of her stories involved her best friend growing up, Wayne Dunham. Born five days apart, and living just two doors down, she often said she and Wayne were as “thick as thieves” in their exploits.

When not bossing the other neighbor kids around, their favorite thing to do was put on plays in a neighborhood garage. Shirley and Wayne’s close friendship would last eighty years.

Shirley graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School and later from Lamar University.

It was in high school Shirley first met Ira Bertrand. Their romance blossomed into marriage and soon they moved to Detroit where Ira worked in the automotive industry.

When Shirley became pregnant, she decided she didn’t want her baby to be born in the north. So, the eight months pregnant Shirley traveled south two days on a train to get back to Texas.

Their son Troy was born in Port Arthur in September of 1951.

It was during this time Shirley and Ira experienced the best of the Pleasure Pier Ballroom, dancing to the likes of Fats domino, Ella and Count Basie.

Try as they might, Shirley and Ira’s marriage was not meant to be, and they divorced several years after Troy’s birth.

Then a friend from high school set Shirley up on a blind date. The blind date, a tall, nice-looking fella, showed up on Shirley’s doorstep, and the very first thing out of his mouth was… “I’m going to marry you.”

Shirley wondered what kind of yokel her friend had set her up with, but soon took a liking to this fella. She and J. W. Pearce got married and in 1958 their son Tracy was born.

As an accountant in the oil industry, J. W. was first transferred to Lafayette, LA, then Magnolia, AR.

In Magnolia Shirley enjoyed all her neighbors, attending the Central Baptist Church and the parties at the Magnolia Country Club.

She also enjoyed chauffeuring her then fourteen-year-old son Troy around town with his junior high friends, even sometimes acting as their getaway driver during several of their notable pranks.

In the late 1970s Shirley and J. W. decided to move back to Port Arthur to be closer to her aging father.

Over the years in Port Arthur Shirley participated in a number of local social groups including the Port Arthur Club, The Commodores and the Second Saturday Night dinner club.

She enjoyed hosting and participating in all the fashion shows, and worked with her friends for several years in the office for the annual Cavalcade Celebration.

Shirley and J. W. loved to “dress to the nines” and go out dancing to the live music of the Ray Solis Band at the Pompano.

A methodical shopper, she enjoyed hitting the clothing shops and combing through the racks for the real deals.  She often preferred to shop alone because few of her friends could, as she would say, “keep up with her.”

She loved to cook gumbo for her family. Loved to be surrounded by her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

She was also known to be regularly distracted by the “one armed bandit” and thoroughly enjoyed the “free meals” at the casino.

Later in life she was surrounded by good neighbors on Blackberry Lane who were kind enough to help her when she needed assistance.

She adored her many friends, many of which she had known for decades.

Over the last few years, she has been especially close to Dana Wasserman, Noris Beavers and Cynthia Mitchell and Cynthia’s loving staff at Holland Place in Nederland.

The family would also like to thank all the angels at Hospice Care Team including Kelly Alton, Peaches and especially Marissa Denzlinger, who’s love and guidance was a blessing for Shirley and her family.

Shirley was preceded to the heavens by her mother and father, her brothers and sister and her husband.

She leaves behind her two sons, Troy Bertrand (Debbie) and Tracy Pearce (Cassandra.) Two grandchildren, Bret Pearce and Ava Pearce, and two great grandchildren, Meghan and Ethan Pearce

Shirley realized all of her blessings and witnessed the message of God with all she came in contact with.

She was unique, appreciated, and well-loved.

What more can anyone ask for.

Except maybe for some moist cake.