Sept. 23, 1931 – May 1, 2019
Robert E. Pearson, a retired steelworker and Navy veteran who devoted decades to volunteer service, including a prison ministry, died Wednesday. He was 87.
The son of Junious and Mabel Pearson, he attended School 31 and graduated from what is now Hutchinson Central Technical High School. After graduation, he joined the Navy. Stationed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea in the Mediterranean, he worked on fighter plane electronics systems – the only African American in his field to do so. After four years of active duty, he served 20 years in the Navy Reserve.
On New Year's Eve 1952, he married Barbara Mullens. They had two children, Kevin and Sheryl.
With a degree he earned in electronics engineering from Tennessee State University, Mr. Pearson went on to work as a supervisor for Bethlehem Steel in Lackawanna, retiring in 1983. He also worked at Canisius College as a drug and substance abuse counselor and as a counselor for the Liberty Partnership College Program.
In 1993, after the death of his wife, he met and married Juanita Hall-Howard.
Previously a devout Catholic, Mr. Pearson joined the St. John Baptist Church in 1973. He was an active volunteer, serving in its Evangelism Ministry, Male Chorus, Trustee Ministry, Sunday School, Christian Men's Fellowship and Prison Ministry. He was made a deacon in 1994.
He was particularly devoted to the church's prison ministry, which he joined in 1985. His prison visits, where he shared scriptures and encouraging words, were as much a blessing to him as they were to the inmates he visited, he said. He stayed with the ministry for three decades, serving as its chairman for 10 years and being honored for his service in 2010.
He was also a vital contributor to the St. John United Federal Credit Union, serving as a loan officer and on its board of directors during the 40 years he volunteered there. He also served as an AmeriCorps Vista Volunteer, creating the credit union's Individual Deposit Account matching savings fund. He was honored by the credit union in 2011.
He loved to bowl and traveled the country to participate in different tournaments.
Mr. Pearson was preceded in death by his son, Kevin. Survivors include his wife, Juanita; two daughters, Sheryl Major and Charisse Brown; a son, Brandon Howard; four grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.
Services will be held at noon Wednesday, May 8, in St. John Baptist Church, 184 Goodell St.