James's Story

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James C. Pierce, MD, MS, PhD, 88, of Danville, passed away peacefully on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2018, at Emmanuel Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation Danville. He was born Aug. 5, 1929, in Huron, South Dakota, the son of the late Henry M. and Carrie Matson Pierce.

He graduated from Aberdeen High School, Aberdeen, S.D., in 1947, Carleton College, Northfield, Minn., in 1951 and from Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass., in 1955. He served his Internship at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, Mass. from 1955-1957. Dr. Pierce then served his country in the United States Air Force from 1957-1959 and was stationed in France. From 1959-1966, he continued his Residency at University of Minnesota where he completed his PhD in Surgery, while doing research in Anti-Rejection Drugs for Renal Transplantation. He was a Professor of Surgery in Renal Transplantation and General Surgery at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, Va. from 1966-1975. From 1975-1979, he served as the Ailsa Mellon Bruce Chairman in General Surgery and Renal Transplantation at St. Luke's Hospital. (St. Luke's and Roosevelt Hospital later merged.)

From 1979-1993, Dr. Pierce was an Attending Surgeon and served as Chairman and Chairman Emeritus of the Departments of Surgery at Geisinger Medical Center, Danville. During this time, they began a program of kidney transplantation. Since then, hundreds of renal transplants have been performed, enabling many residents of the rural area to have transplants nearer to home. He continued at Geisinger as a General Surgeon, retiring in 1993, although continuing to teach Medical Students who rotated through General Surgery until 2012. In 2015, Dr. Pierce was inducted into the Owen Wangensteen Surgical Society at the University of Minnesota.

During his medical career, there are many noteworthy facts. In 1968, Dr. Pierce was one of the 16 principal participants throughout the world who were invited to the First International Human Transplant Conference in Cape Town, South Africa. He was also a James, IV scholar for six weeks in Scotland and Ireland.

In addition, he authored and co-authored 67 scientific articles. Eight of these are listed with comments on their contributions to the development of organ transplantation.

Dr. Pierce was a member of Grove Presbyterian Church where he served as a Deacon and Elder as well as serving on the Finance Committee. He thoroughly enjoyed his involvement in Bible Studies with other Grove members.

After retiring, his activities were numerous. He became a Duplicate Bridge Player with his wife, Sue and attained rank of Life Master and was a Stamp Collector. He was passionate about Classical Music as well as Rembrandt. Dr. Pierce was an avid reader of History, especially regarding World War II and The Civil War. One of his favorite past times was taking walks whenever he could. The long conversations that he shared with his brothers regarding politics and sports were priceless to him and, above all else, spending time with his family was his greatest joy of all.

He recently celebrated 50 years of marriage to Sue Wilson Pierce, who survives. They were married May 6, 1967.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two sons, Henry M. Pierce, of Seattle, Wash. and R. Matson Pierce and his wife Deanna, of Danville; and one daughter, Beth Pierce Varhus and her husband Kristofor, of Garnet Valley, Pa. He is also survived by four grandchildren, Bryant and Tyler Pierce and Wilson and EJ Varhus. Also surviving is one brother, Robert L. Pierce and wife Sandra, of Atlanta, Ga., and his first cousin, Elizabeth Ashley and her husband Ray, of Granbury, Texas. One niece and several nephews also survive him.

He was preceded in death by one brother, William H. Pierce.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend a Celebration of Life to be held Saturday, Feb. 10, at 11 a.m. at Grove Presbyterian Church, 330 Bloom Road, Danville, with the Rev. Dr. Robert J. Andrews, Pastor Emeritus, officiating. Burial will be private in the Memorial Garden at the church. Friends will be received in the Great Room at the church from 9:15 to 10:45 a.m.

The family will provide flowers.

Memorial contributions may be made to Grove Presbyterian Church or to the Alzheimer's Association, 57 N. Franklin St., Wilkes-Barre PA 18701-1309 or online at www.alzpa.org.

Arrangements are under the direction of Visneski Funeral Home, Inc., 42 W. Mahoning St., Danville. www.visneski.com
Published on February 2, 2018
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