Walter L. Peirce

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Peirce Mr. Walter L. Peirce, of Waltham, died Friday, January 1, 2010 in the home that he was born in on Waverley Oaks Road just over 100 years ago. Walter was born on December 20, 1909, a son of the late Elisha A. and Margaret W. (Phillips) Peirce and had been a lifelong Waltham resident. His grandfather purchased the land that became the family homestead in 1861, during President Abraham Lincoln's first year in office, where they owned and operated Peirce Brothers Roses and Peirce Brothers Oil Service. He was the devoted husband of 57 years to Elinor B. (Berry) Peirce until her death on April 2, 2005. Walter led quite a storied life. He became a muskrat trapper at the age of 11 and developed a lifelong love for the outdoors, becoming an avid hunter and fisherman. He also worked in his father's greenhouses from an early age. In January, 1928 as an 18 year old senior at Waltham High School he joined the Massachusetts National Guard and was assigned to the 110th Calvary where he became an expert marksman. When the unit was mechanized he was trained as a field artilleryman and after the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor in December, 1941 he was shipped out immediately to the Pacific. His unit became part of the 247th Battalion of the U.S. Army's Americal Division. His unit was sent to Australia, New Caledonia and eventually to Guadalcanal, the scene of the first and one of the toughest battles during the Pacific War. After falling ill with jungle fever he was sent home to recuperate, eventually being promoted to Master Sergeant and being reassigned to the 542nd Field Artillery Battalion, 42nd Infantry Division, famously known as the Rainbow Division, of the 7th U.S. Army. Along with his promotion and new division assignment the Army gave Walter a cruise ticket, this time in the other direction, to the war raging in Europe, and also made him his unit's sergeant major. He participated in the campaigns in the Rhineland and in Central Europe. His unit liberated the Dachau concentration camp on April 25, 1945. He was nominated to receive the Bronze Star for 'exemplary performance of duty in active ground combat' against an armed enemy of the United States, however the award was not processed until his family found the paperwork that had been lingering since the end of World War II. A day after his 100th birthday last month the nation honored Walter with the long awaited and well earned Bronze Star Medal. In addition to his duties as his unit's sergeant major, Walter became the division's florist. After hearing of his family business in Waltham his men would count on him to send messages to his Dad and Uncle back home to process hundreds of orders for flowers to be sent coast to coast to their families for birthdays, anniversaries, Easter, St. Valentine's Day and Mothers' Day. After the war he returned home to work in the family oil business, still making truck deliveries well into his 80's. He also rode for sixty-two years with the Shriner's Aleppo Mounted Patrol until the same age, having become an expert horse rider during his National Guard days. Walter had also been a longtime member of the Waltham Triad Lodge, A.F. & A.M. On Saturday, December 19th, Walter was honored during his centennial birthday celebration at the American Legion Post in Waltham where more than 200 people, including city officials, fellow veterans, family from all over New England and friends spoke of his being a true patriot, a humble citizen and a devoted husband and father. They also honored him by sharing stories of Walter being a true outdoorsman, bird watcher, berry picker, punster, storyteller, poet and fly fisherman extraordinaire. He was also a pretty good cribbage and poker player over the years. Walter had 2 daughters and 2 sons, 6 grandchildren, 4 great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. He was also a brother of the late Allan W. Peirce.

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REGULAR MONTHLY MEETINGS: Every 2nd Thursday, Aleppo Meeting Room, 7:00 pm