Paul Ellsworth Pierson passed away peacefully at Lake Mills Care Home in Iowa on August 17, 2023. He was surrounded by family and wonderful care staff to whom he sang “You Are My Sunshine” in his rich timbre just five days earlier.
Paul was born on April 13, 1936 to L. Clifford and Ida G. Pierson in Albert Lea, Minn. He graduated from ALHS in 1954, where he was a member of many athletic teams including football, basketball, and golf.
Paul’s natural gifts didn’t end with sports; he had a beautiful voice and sang in both church and school choirs, as well as anywhere he heard a five-part harmony! His love of music and smooth dancing skills (taught by his sister, Janis) led to finding his lifelong love at a high school hop. He confessed that he was “drawn to a pretty girl standing across the gym floor and hoping I could gather my courage to ask her for a dance.”
Paul married that pretty girl, Dorothy Conner, on May 19, 1956 at United Methodist Church. They recently celebrated 67 years of dancing together.
A lifelong Albert Lean, his work started at age 12 delivering newspapers and even winning a trip to the Twin Cities for selling the most new subscriptions. He went on to work many fields of construction, mainly masonry, before joining the Freeborn County Assessor’s office in 1966 until retirement in 1994. Known for his honesty and work ethic, his career and cherished professional relationships allowed him to leave his handprint on the renovations of many historic landmarks in his beloved hometown, such as the former Mortenson Dairy Building, The Abbott, Sunset Apartments, Lea College, and the former ALHS.
Paul took pride in the close friendships developed while being a member of the Elks Club, Ducks Unlimited, Moose Lodge, Minnesota Association of Assessors, bowling, golf, softball and card leagues, and member of the local dance group “The Stardusters” with Dorothy.
A freedom-loving, free-thinking, people-adoring, unconventional adventurer, Paul also left his mark around the globe. With his best friend, Dorothy, by his side, they traveled the world: riverboating down the Danube, hostel-hopping around Europe, cruising through the Panama Canal, walking with King penguins on the Falkland Islands, exploring the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, dancing the tango in Argentina, camping in New Zealand, Mexico day trips, and cruising to the “ends of the world” in Cape Horn.
Domestically, they enjoyed boating through Alaskan passageways, lobster fishing in Maine, snowmobiling/scootering around the Midwest, playing different golf courses (even getting a Hole-in-One at Green Lea Golf Course!), and attending many Four Freshmen Society concerts around the U.S.- his family called him the unofficial Fifth Freshmen!
Paul loved sharing his passions with his 10 grandchildren. Together they enjoyed duck and pheasant hunting, playing whist, freshwater fishing “up north”, and attending jazz festivals with cheese, apples, and wine in a canteen to share. His grandchildren remember a calm, loving, entertaining contrarian who rarely missed athletic events, music concerts, or an opportunity to engage in rich conversations with new acquaintances.
Paul is survived by his wife, Dorothy, and three daughters: Jodi (Steve) Ladwig, Kathleen (Jeff) Fitzpatrick, Laurie (Rollie) Keyeski; and grandchildren: Josh, Matt (Seth), Katherine, Annie, Aleigh, Jack, Conner (Kaitlyn), Cole, Camryn and step-granddaughter Rachel. Great grandchildren include Vivian, Etta, and Caroline. Survivors also include sister Janis Stadheim, nieces Jennifer and Julie, nephew Jason, cousins, and friends and neighbors in Minnesota and Arizona.
Paul was preceded in death by his parents, infant twin siblings, father-and-mother-in-law Alva and Edna Conner, brothers-in-law Melvin Conner and John Stadheim, as well as his many four-legged best friends, Mike, Sam, Felix, Molly, Black Duck, Gunnar, and Charlie.
Per his humble wishes, a private family inurnment will take place at a later date.
Pauly, we will forever miss and treasure those twinkling eyes. Until we dance again.