CAPE CORAL, Fla. – Col. Dwight R. Pierce, 91, passed away peacefully Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013, at his home in Cape Coral.
He was born Feb. 13, 1922, in Polo, the son of Lemuel and Susie (Cable) Pierce. After graduation from Polo High School in 1939, he would be beckoned to the skies over Western Europe during World War II. Serving first as a U.S. Air Force enlisted member from 1939 to 1942, he went on to earn his wings and a commission as second lieutenant on Jan. 30, 1943. He flew more than 22 combat missions over Germany as the pilot of a B26 Marauder (better known as “The Widow Maker” or “Flying Coffin”).
After the war, he returned home to successfully manage Kroger stores in Woodstock, Rockford, and Oregon. He met Norma Jeanne Pierce at the Dome Roller Rink in Dixon, and they were married Dec. 9, 1947. Their honeymoon was a trip to Florida, won as the result of his being an “outstanding” manager for the Kroger Co. At that time, they both agreed to retire in Florida. And they did.
Alas, the skies still beckoned to him, and he returned to active duty as captain on Jan. 19, 1953, eventually retiring as a full colonel on July 31, 1970. Rising quickly through the ranks, his hundreds of flight hours included piloting the B-29, KC-97, and KC-135, air refueling. He received numerous decorations and commendations throughout his entire Air Force career.
He is survived by his daughters, Nancy C. Gehlker of Homosassa, Fla., and Julie L. O’Brien (Joe) North of Fort Myers, Fla.; grandchildren, Jeffrey LaCoursiere (Megan) of Naperville, Tamara Mullholand (Daryn) of St. Petersburg, Fla., Melissa Weathers (Scott) of Winter Springs, Fla., Kelli Pierce Roley of Homosassa, and Jennifer Leigh O’Brien and Jeanne Marie O’Brien, both of Asheville, N.C.; nine great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; former wife, Norma Jeanne Pierce; sisters, Dale Pieper, Lacie Pieper, and Dovie Cooper; and brothers, Lemuel Jr. and Wayne Pierce.
Visitation will be from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Tuesday and the funeral at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at Polo Family Funeral Home, 110 E. Dixon St. Military honors will follow at Fairmount Cemetery in Polo.
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