Lifelong friends celebrate 75 years
Joan Meyer and Jean Pierce, both 93 years old, represented the class of 1943 in the Old Settlers’ Day parade. They were celebrating the 75th anniversary of their high school graduation.
Jean and Joan both grew up in Marion. Jean’s family moved to town when her father, Leon Knight, became manager of the new Penney’s Store. Joan’s father, Ollie Wight, was the town marshal for 16 years and later joined his wife as owner and operator of Thompson Funeral Home. The two men were friends.
The girls both grew up on the hill and went to the hill school. The valley students joined them in junior high. They did the usual things together, playing ball and going to parties and school events.
Joan likes to tell people that she grew up in a funeral home.
“We couldn’t have slumber parties there because somebody might die,” Jean recalled.
When Ollie was town marshal, he owned his own vehicle with a police siren. Joan said sometimes she and Jean and other friends would drive around town in the cop car and scare suspicious-acting people away.
“We tried to keep the town pure,” Jean said.
“Yes, and we had a lot of fun, too,” Joan said.
They were in high school during World War II and learned how to entertain themselves.
Both girls married men who became prominent businessmen in Marion. Jean married Bud Pierce in 1946, and Joan married Bill Meyer in 1949. They took part in each other’s wedding.
Jean’s husband, Bud, bought the Conoco gas station at the corner of Walnut and Main Sts. and later established Pierce Oil Co. on South Third St. Joan’s husband, Bill, joined Hoch Publishing Co. at the Marion County Record and later purchased it.
The two women went separate ways after marrying. Joan was bookkeeper for W.J. Small Co. for nine years, and then became involved at the Record, where she still shows up on a regular basis to assist staffers. Jean worked at Farmers and Drovers Bank for seven years and as a clerk to the probate judge for another seven years.
The deaths of their husbands — Bill in 2006 and Bud in 2007 — brought the women back together.
They go to the senior center together almost every day, sit in church together, and eat Sunday dinner together.
Norma Kline sees them often at the center.
“Those two women are so delightful,” she said. “They have so many stories to tell.”
They talk on the phone a lot.
“We have to keep reminding each other of what day it is or who is going to drive,” Joan said.
“I feel Joan will always be here for me,” Jean said. “If I have problems, I can count on her.”
“I feel the same way, with Jean” Joan said. “Our feelings are mutual.”
Last modified Oct. 3, 2018