WILMINGTON — Charles “Charlie” Jason Pierce, 79, formerly of New Castle, Ind., died on January 23, 2023, in Wilmington, N.C., where he relocated in 2003 to be with his family. Pierce suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia in recent years but retained his good-humored personality and the memories of his lifetime of adventures and tall tales. He died in hospice care at the Davis Community.
Born in 1943 to Ida Mae (Denney) and Jason Pierce in New Castle, Charles lived most of his life there; was a 1962 graduate of Walter P. Chrysler Memorial High School; a proud Local 371 United Auto Workers Union member; a grand knight of the Knights of Columbus Council 1755; a member of New Castle Elks Lodge No. 484, and a retiree of the Chrysler Corp. New Castle Plant, where he labored 35 years in the manufacture of car and truck parts. At the Chrysler, he worked in the hammer shop (forge), in inspections and in labor.
Charles met his wife Linda (Clinton) in the summer of 1964, at the Skydrome Drive-In Movie Theatre, where he was a manager and she sold tickets. Years later they became a couple and married on Feb. 19, 1971; they had two children, Andy and Jill. The Pierces celebrated their 50th anniversary with friends and family online from their home in Wilmington during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before working for Chrysler, Charles worked as an assistant undertaker with Donald Dyer in Albany, Ky., as an orderly at the Henry County (Ind.) State Hospital and briefly as an assembly worker at Modernfold Doors (New Castle Products).
A passionate and lifelong Democrat, he served as a precinct captain for the party in New Castle. He also served on the Indiana Selective Service System Board.
Charles was known for his service at St. Anne’s Church and School in New Castle, his good humor and mischief, his gambling on sports and horses, his love of University of Kentucky Basketball and for riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle around town. He often rode his Harley across the Midwest to attend many motorcycle races with his friends.
He and his best friend, Tom Renegar, of the Hog Shop on Indiana State Road 38, were partners in a wildly popular annual motorcycle swap meet staged in Richmond, Ind., during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Charles was an avid biker until a reckless automobile driver struck and nearly killed him in June of 1981, in Greenville, Ohio. The collision left him an amputee and unable to ride, but his spirit and enthusiasm for bikes, biker culture and living life were undaunted. As soon as he was fitted with a prosthetic leg and could walk and drive again, he became an advocate for motorist safety and promoted a “Lookout for Motorcycles” public service announcement video to major network TV affiliates in Indianapolis.
Raised in a variety of faiths, Charles was baptized as a Catholic while recovering from his injuries in 1981 and remained a member of the church for the rest of his life. In recent years, he and his family were members of St. Mark’s Catholic Church in Wilmington.
In retirement, Charles sold bait and rented fishing tackle to tourists as an attendant on Johnnie Mercers Pier above the surf of Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina. On the pier, he loved working overnight as he had done for Chrysler and meeting local people as well as tourists from around the world. He enjoyed annual trips to Kentucky, including Somerset, Albany, Lake Cumberland and Churchill Downs and Keeneland. One of his favorite activities was an annual houseboat fishing trip on Lake Cumberland with friends, family, and extended acquaintances from Denney Auto Sales in New Castle. He celebrated his 70th birthday with friends and family at Grider Hill Dock on Lake Cumberland.
When he and Linda both retired, they devoted most of their time to their grandchildren, whom they drove to activities and with whom they celebrated all holidays, birthdays, and special occasions. Throughout his life, he was an avid photographer and loved to shoot videotapes of family trips.
Charles was preceded in death by his parents Ida Mae (Farmer, nee Denney) and Jason Pierce; his brother, Ed Pierce, and his sister, Debbie Corey. He is survived by his wife Linda; his daughter, Jill, and his son-in-law, Brian Vale; his grandchildren, Connor and Corina Vale; his son, Andy, and his daughter-in-law, Beth Eckerty; his sisters Julie Pierce Woolums and Shelia Applegate (David) his brothers John Pierce (Teresa) and David Pierce and his stepfather Jay Farmer. He is also remembered fondly by his nieces, nephews, and cousins.
In accordance with his wishes, there will be no wake or formal services. Interment at St. Anne’s Catholic Cemetery in New Castle will be announced later. Memorial contributions may be made to St. Anne’s Cemetery at 102 N. 19th St., New Castle, IN 47362.
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared with the Pierce family here.