Col. Dwight R. Pierce, 91, passed away peacefully at his home in Cape Coral Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013.
He was born Feb. 13, 1922, in Polo, Ill., the son of Lemuel and Susan (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 USAF 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, Ill. 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 him being an "outstanding" manager for the Kroger Company. At that time, they both agreed to retire in Florida. And they did!
Col. Dwight R. Pierce
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 including 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 daughter, Nancy C. Gehlker, Homosassa, Fla., and Julie L. O'Brien (Joe) North Fort Myers, Fla.; grandchildren, Jeffrey LaCoursiere (Megan), Naperville, Ill.; Tamara Mullholand (Daryn) St. Petersburg, Fla.; Melissa Weathers (Scott) Winter Springs, Fla.; Kelli Pierce Roley, Homosassa, Fla.; Jennifer Leigh O'Brien, Asheville, N.C.; Jeanne Marie O'Brien, Asheville, N.C.; nine great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.
He was predeceased by his parents; former wife, Norma Jeanne Pierce; sisters, Dale Pieper, Lacie Pieper and Dovie Cooper; and brothers, Lemuel Jr and Wayne Pierce.
Visitation and Memorial Service will be held at the Polo Family Funeral Home, 110 E. Dixon St., Polo, Ill., Tuesday, Sept. 24, with visitation from 9:30-10:30 a.m. and Memorial Service immediately afterward. Following Memorial Service, there will be a Military Honors Salute at Fairmount Cemetery, with luncheon to follow.
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