Commissioner Vernon Pierce remembered for leading by example; services set

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, April 17, 2024

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Jefferson County Precinct 1 Commissioner Vernon Pierce, who died Sunday after a battle with cancer, was known as a humble and hardworking community champion.

Those who worked with Pierce, 69, said he led by example.

A gathering for Pierce’s family and friends is planned from 5 until 7 p.m. Friday at Broussard’s in Beaumont. His funeral service is at 1 p.m. Saturday at Wesley Methodist Church, 3810 North Major Drive in Beaumont.

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Former sheriff and Jefferson County Judge Carl Griffith has known and was friends with Pierce for many years.

The two worked together in 2005 when Hurricane Rita struck Southeast Texas — Griffith was county judge at the time and Pierce worked with Entergy.

Entergy played a vital role in helping law enforcement and emergency management during the storm and aftermath.

“He loved the people of Southeast Texas. He wasn’t from here, but got here as soon as he could,” Griffith said. “He did a great job as VP for Entergy, helping people. When he retired, wanted to give back.”

Pierce’s cancer diagnosis was no secret and he had been in remission.

Some people might spend their last years traveling but not Pierce.

“He wanted to serve the people. That was his mission in life, His wife (Sheree) is the same,” Griffith said.

Griffith recalls a time when a Veteran was in need of a mattress, so Pierce and a few others got together and brought it to the Veteran’s home.

“He was a very, very giving person in the community. He loved Southeast Texas and Jefferson County,” Griffith said. “He lived the way he died, serving the people.”

Precinct 3 County Commissioner Michael Shane Sinegal said Pierce is going to be missed.

“We have a great relationship on commissioners court, great continuity. I think the entire court is a good court. We didn’t always agree but he understood he represented the whole county, just as I do,” Sinegal said.

Precinct 2 County Commissioner Cary Erickson had the pleasure of serving together and sitting next to Pierce since he was elected last year, and they knew each other prior to that, Erickson said.

“Vernon was very much a servant leader in that he practiced what he preached,” Erickson said. “He led by example. There weren’t many things he was not involved in, like civic organizations. He was a Rotarian, involved with Gift of Life and a number of other organizations.”

Pierce served the community in an exemplary fashion and did everything 100 percent, Erickson added.

“He faced his battle with cancer with as much courage and grace as anybody,” Erickson said. “You never heard him complain. When you asked, he said he was doing good, fighting it. Cancer sucks.”

Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick said everyone at the courthouse is disheartened at the death of Pierce.
“Commissioner Pierce was very humble and a dedicated servant. Intelligent, hard working. He always studied his materials and knew what was going on. He was logical and extremely involved in the community, whether it be disaster recovery, Rotary or nonprofits,” Branick said, adding Pierce and his wife attended and were involved with Wesley Methodist Church in Beaumont.

“He was a very good friend to everyone, and he is going to be sorely missed.”

Pierce’s death leaves a vacant seat on the commissioner’s court.

As the only candidate for the seat during the March primary, he would have been declared the winner in August but since his death came earlier, Branick will need to appoint a person to the seat.

The appointee will serve until Dec. 31, then whomever wins the general election will serve the four-year term.

This means the parties must find a candidate by a set date in August to be on the November ballot.

Branick is unaware of what the party chairs will chose to do at this time.