Farewell to John Pierce

Merna Emara
Times alumni

Last week was the last work week for Fort Frances Times legend John Pierce, after about three decades of dedicated service to Times’ customers. I want to seize this opportunity to give an idea of what an honour and privilege it was to work under his mentorship for two years.

Because my job at the Times was my first full-time job after graduation, I had a million questions and a curious mind. John was more than willing to patiently walk me through overcoming work and life hurdles. I consider myself very lucky to have been on the receiving end of his advice, guidance, support, and encouragement.

When I became a Fort Frances resident, John generously offered to take me on daily rides to fine-tune my driving skills and familiarize me with the town. Despite a few driving scares, he patiently introduced me to the town’s history, geography, and politics.

A leader by example, John’s friendly demeanour, outstanding work ethic and loving personality always made for the best work environment. I recall John warmly welcoming all new Times hires and ensuring they were a part of the team. He also always ensured they were celebrated correctly and appreciated when anyone had to leave due to retirement or career change.

With a passion and a strong desire to encourage, John always loved to see new reporters grow and succeed, all while having fun and laughing. I was always very eager to listen to John’s feedback following every Wednesday Times. As a very loyal and devoted reader of the Times, he would devour all stories before telling my colleagues and me what a tremendous job we had done. His words alone would motivate me to a level I never thought was attainable.

John Pierce was more than just an ad man – he was a champion of the Times and its staff. His retirement has been a sad one for everyone here. That includes former reporter Merna Emara, who has rejoined the academic world, but was touched by John’s kindness and support while she was with us.

John’s name has not entered a conversation without being referred to as the most passionate, dedicated, sincere, cheerful, inspirational, kind person you’ll ever encounter. He was the mastermind of my favourite stories previously printed on these pages. Suffice it to say that most of the friends I made in Fort Frances are traced back to him.

Although I miss all my former colleagues, the Times building, the sound of the running press and the smell of the ink, this is the only time I would not want to be there. His presence at work made me feel safe, and the thought of walking over to his desk and not finding him does not sit well with me, even though I am thousands of miles away.

One does not run into people like John every day, let alone work with them. Though I only worked at the Times for two years, there is no denying that John’s influence will live forever. He is a true example of what a person should be. I would speak for many when I say everyone will truly miss him. His work had an everlasting impact on me, the Times, and the community. Congratulations on a well-deserved rest after many years of dedication and top-notch service.