Citation: A. R. Webber, Life of John Baldwin, Sr. of Berea, Ohio (The Caxton Press, 1925), 206-209.
PROFESSOR PIERCE was from the beginning so much a part of Baldwin University that the story of John Baldwin's school would be incomplete without a chapter devoted to his part in building it up. He was a pioneer with its founder in laying the right foundations.
The following, I quote from a reminiscent article from the pen of Mrs. John Baldwin, Jr., published in the Berea paper, April 22, 1911:
“DOCTOR PIERCE, First Minister
“The first resident minister was Rev. W. C. Pierce of revered memory. He came in 1846, and from the beginning of the institute, as trustee or teacher, Doctor Pierce was connected with the college all his active life. I have heard dear Mrs. Pierce relate her pioneer experiences with laughter, and also with tears. She was an educated, refined woman from the East, and the hardships and privations of the primitive life in the new country were very hard for her to bear.
“From its first settlement this place has been known as an educational center. The pioneers were willing and anxious to make great sacrifices for schools.
“ Professor Pierce passed away in 1902, at his granddaughter's in Cleveland. The following account of his life appeared in the papers:
“Rev. Dr. Pierce Called Home
“Rev. Wm.. C. Pierce died at the home of his granddaughter, Mrs. J. B. Roberts, 691 East Prospect Street, Cleveland, Ohio, last Friday afternoon, September 12, 1902. Doctor Pierce was one of God's noblemen, a gentleman of the old school. He lived out the full measure of life, and enjoyed a green old age. His death was only a translation to a higher sphere, where he will receive the full fruition of a well-spent life on earth.
“He leaves one sister; a granddaughter, Mrs. Crilla McDermott Roberts; and a niece, Mrs. Cora Pierce Lawrence, of Columbus. His last sickness was of short duration. About two weeks ago, while enjoying his annual visit at the home of Mrs. Whitney, in Berea, he was taken suddenly weak and prostrated, but was able to be taken to his home in the city in a carriage, but only lived a few days afterward.
“The Funeral. -In accordance with the expressed wishes of the deceased, the funeral was held in the Berea Methodist Episcopal Church, and the burial was made beside the remains of his beloved wife in Woodvale Cemetery.
“The funeral service was conducted by Rev. Duston Kemble, former presiding elder, and who officiated at the funeral of Mrs. Pierce, whose death occurred during his ministry in Berea. There was a large at tendance of those who had known Doctor Pierce during his long and eventful career in this village. The remains, accompanied by the mourning friends, arrived here shortly after noon on the funeral car, the services taking place at two o' clock. Doctor Kemble and Rev. Mr. Gallimore left Ashland in the morning, before Conference adjourned, and arrived here just in time for the services. Every arrangement, even to the smallest detail, had been made for the funeral with Undertaker Brown, several months ago, by the aged minister himself. The active pallbearers chosen were, Doctor Gould, Doctor Coates, T. C. Mattison, Ed. Cash, John Baldwin, Jr., Doctor Perry, and W. J. Lawrence. The honorary pallbearers were members of the faculty of Baldwin University and of German Wallace College.
“The service began with the hymn, 'One Sweetly Solemn Thought,' which was beautifully rendered by a quartet composed of Professors Weaver and McElroy, and Misses Wallace and Darling. Professor Burr read the Ninetieth Psalm, 'Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place.’ Professor Schneider read a part of the fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians, and a fervent . prayer was offered by Rev. J. P. Mills. 'Nearer, my God, to Thee,' was then sung by the quartet, after which Doctor Kemble made a few introductory remarks. He was followed by Doctor Gallimore, who read a sketch of Doctor Pierce's life.
“Dr. Mattison spoke feelingly of his twenty years' acquaintance and association with the deceased, as student and co-laborer, in the university. He was followed by Dr. Victor Wilker of the college, who reviewed the characteristics of Doctor Pierce, and spoke of his constant interest in the German college. Doctor Kemble also spoke of the estimable traits of character exemplified by Doctor Pierce during life, saying that his memory will be like the 'precious ointment poured forth.' He was a man of unusual degree of taste and culture and gave the stamp of culture to the community. He closed with a brief prayer.
“The quartet sang 'Good night, good night, it is morning now,' which closed the services at the church.
“Upon the casket rested beautiful tributes of flowers, emblems of purity and innocence, which were so strongly exemplified by the deceased in life.“