Life Story / Obituary
With a life that spanned more than a century, Opal Pierce experienced so much of the best things in life. She was well known for inspiring those who were passionate about developing their musical talent in the community she called home throughout her life. For nearly 83 years, Opal and her husband exemplified what marriage is intended to be as they were truly best friends. An honest and forthright woman of faith, she leaves behind a deeply embedded footprint that will remain for years to come.
The America of the early 1900s was a very different than the America we know and love today. There were struggles with unsafe working conditions in every city and town across the nation, and with a lack of child labor laws it was often the nation’s youth who suffered the most. Education took a backseat to young people in the workforce, which meant that less than 10 percent of America’s teens ever graduated from high school. Amidst this unprecedented time was a year that brought great celebration to one young couple from Fountain, Michigan, who were pleased to announce the birth of their healthy baby girl on June 8, 1910. Opal Irene was the youngest of three children born to her parents, Delbert and Hattie (Munson) Hyrns, and was raised in the family home alongside her sister, Dorothy, and her brother, Irving “Bub.” Her father worked for a variety of places within the food industry while her mother was a busy homemaker.
Not long after Opal was born their family moved to Muskegon where she would call home for the rest of her life. As a student she attended local schools. While she was still a young girl Opal’s parents went their separate ways, and she remained with her mother. Someone who loved family, she always looked forward to visits to her Uncle Ruby’s up north. As was fairly common for young people during this time Opal began working when she was just 14 years old as she took a job at Miers Cleaners.
New and exciting changes were in store for Opal when she met the young man who stole her heart. His name was Charles Pierce, and they met when she was just 17 years old. Opal was truly smitten with him, and it was love at first sight. The couple began dating and soon found themselves deeply in love. With a desire to build a life together they eloped and were married on January 26, 1928. At the time Opal was working at a local bank and Charlie was working at a foundry. The couple settled into a home in Muskegon that was the first home in Muskegon to have a gas furnace. Their home was also a great location because every year they had the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Circus across from their home. A bit later Opal and Charlie were overjoyed to welcome their son, Charles II “Buddy” into their hearts and lives in 1928. From the moment her son was born Opal was thrilled to be a mother and treasured the every moment she spent raising Buddy.
Although her life was filled with great joys, Opal also experienced deep sorrows along her life’s journey. She was very close to her mother, so her mother’s death in the 1930s was very difficult for her. In 1950 Opal and Charlie were devastated with the death of their son when he was stricken with appendicitis.
Through the years Opal was one to keep busy. With her superb speedwriting skills she worked at banks and for an attorney as well. Opal was also an accomplished pianist who was well known throughout the Muskegon area for her outstanding skills as a piano teacher. A talented musician, she was also a skilled organist and a member of the Muskegon Organ Club. Opal loved to dance and was so graceful to watch that she could draw quite the crowd. She truly loved any event with music and was known to waltz or polka the night away.
It is unbelievable that Opal and Charlie spent nearly 83 years together before his death in 2011. They shared many of the same interests and simply enjoyed spending time with one another. Both Opal and Charlie loved biking, and they also loved entertaining in the new home they built in 1947. Their guests were always in for a treat, too, as Opal was a fantastic cook. Almost every year Opal and Charlie’s was the place to be on both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. For many years several good times were shared with their close friends, Walter and Pam Paulssen. Together they were members of Central United Methodist Church.
All who knew Opal would agree that she had a graceful and quiet strength - and maybe just a few secrets of how to live a long and fruitful life. In the 1980s Opal fought and overcame cancer. Perhaps her nightly bowl of ice cream with nuts that was anything but small had something to do with her longevity! Opal also took every opportunity to indulge in her favorite food - Fricano’s Pizza. In 2010 she broke her back and later her hip, and it was on January 3rd of 2011 that she was deeply saddened to say goodbye to the love of her life. Just a short time later, on January 17, Opal moved to DaySpring Assisted Living where she was dearly loved by staff and fellow residents alike.
We will remember Opal Pierce as a loving and kind woman who deeply treasured those around her. She was always happy and was also known for her kind honesty as well. Opal was a vital part of the community she called home throughout most of her life and well respected for her ability to inspire others through her passion for teaching music. The memories she leaves behind will be treasured for years to come.
Opal Pierce died on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at DaySpring Assisted Living Residence. Opal’s family includes her special nephew & niece, Monte Hyrns and Dawn (Louis) Baker; brother-in-law, Ernie (Carol) Dennison; cousins, Arlene Meyers, Kathleen (Richard) Beduhn; many more nieces & nephews; and special friends, Walter & Pam Paulssen & their daughter, Anita (Jim) Breimayer. Opal was preceded in death by her husband, Charlie; son, Charles "Buddy" Pierce in 1950; mother & father; sister, Dorothy (Hyrns) Wood; brother, Irving "Bub" Hyrns. Services will be held on Tuesday, July 3, 2012, 1:00 p.m. at the Clock Chapel - Muskegon with Pastor Diane Gordon officiating. Visitation will be held on Tuesday, 1 hour prior to the service at Clock Life Story Funeral Home - Muskegon. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com where you can leave a memory or sign the online guestbook.