Leta Pierce was born on May 14, 1925 in Oak Grove, Tennessee, the
oldest of seven children, daughter of Ina and Hassel Winningham. She
married Clyde Pierce of Byrdstown on May 23, 1942, and celebrated
nearly 62 years of marriage before his death in January, 2004.
Clyde and Leta, like many, moved to Michigan seeking better economic
opportunities and lived there most of their married lives. Together
they built a life centered around their church and family, and were
able to enjoy their home, travel, and raising their two daughters,
June (spouse, Charles Ballard) and Janet. Janet pre-deceased them in
Leta lived a life characterized by hard work, generosity and
faithfulness. She was a tireless caregiver to her family, including
the difficult times through the illnesses of her daughter and
husband, and the joyful times caring for her great-nephews. Her hands
were never idle. A meticulous housekeeper, she also took great pride
in her garden that fed her extended family, friends and neighbors.
She had the gift of hospitality, and loved to cook for others. Her
chocolate pie was a favorite of many. She was happiest baking,
arranging flowers, or anticipating the arrival of company. She was a
skillful manager and organizer, with great attention to detail,
whether in her home life, work as a beautician, or her appearance.
She believed in dressing up for church, and took to heart her
mother’s teachings that one should “Do as well as they looked”.
“Sister Pierce” was a woman of great faith who knew, loved and served
She was a devoted daughter, sister, mother, grandmother and great-
grandmother, taking particular pride in her three grandchildren and
four great grandchildren, Allison (children William and Eleanor),
Emily (spouse, Lisa, children Kate and Eric) and Andrew Pierce
(spouse, Katelynn). She loved her brothers Lester, Albert and Donald,
and her sisters, Louise and Joy. She often commented that her sisters-
in-law felt like her own sisters. She cared about her son-in-law Bill
Youatt as her own son, until his passing in 2006. Her last visit to
her Tennessee home and family was in May 2017.
She was the family matriarch, with enormous influence on three
generations. Her sayings and advice will be remembered and often
repeated. The ways she cared for those she loved will be practiced
and carried on.
Those wishing to honor her memory may choose to donate to the William
G. Youatt Scholarship Fund (Michigan State University), Sparrow
Hospital Home Hospice, or the MSU Student Organic Farm Barn Fund
(Michigan State University).