James Cohen Pierce, 94, of Gainesville, passed away March 9, 2021, following a short illness. He was born, September 19, 1926, off Mud Creek Rd., in Yonah, GA, to Benjamin Gonzell Pierce (1895-1955) and Mattie Bell Meeks Pierce (1902-1980). He was brought into this world by "Aunt Matt" Griffin, the neighbor, who served as midwife for the community. After his birth, his father asked Matt what he owed her, for her work, to which she replied, "Well, Ben, just give me one of them little piglets, running around, and that should do it". Thus, began a nine decade love of anything pork, especially when transformed into sausage, or country ham, and served on a hot biscuit.
Cohen was drafted into the Army, in January, 1945, half-way through his senior year of high school. After Basic Training, at Camp Blanding, FL, he was sent to the Philippines (to await the anticipated invasion of Japan) where he served as a tugboat captain, and rose to the rank of Corporal. He was in the Marshall Islands when word came of the Japanese surrender. Being discharged, in August , 1946, he was given fifteen dollars, by the Army, to get home, over 8,000 miles, to the east. He returned to the States, by way of ship, to San Francisco, cargo plane hold, to Memphis, and by the grace of God, and a wonderful lady, in the Greyhound bus station, there, the loan of twenty dollars for a bus ticket to Lula.
After helping his brother, H.R., to begin Pierce Wholesale, in 1948, he began a career with the Gainesville Police Department, rising to the rank of Captain, before retiring, May 31, 1976. In 1964, he was honored to escort President Lyndon Johnson to the speaker's platform, when the President visited Gainesville. He was also recognized as "Officer of the Year", in 1975. He was offered the job of Police Chief, on two different occasions, but chose to remain with his men, protecting the streets, and citizens, of Gainesville. After retiring, he was elected to serve on the Gainesville Civil Service Board, overseeing the employees of the City.
In 1952, he saw a pretty girl walking across the Square, on her lunch break, from Pilgrim-Estes Furniture. In his words, "I knew, right then, that she was the one". He never went out with another girl; he, and Margie Skinner, were married, nine months later, on June 26, 1953. They were happily married, until her death, December 4, 2020.
Cohen was preceded in death by his parents, brother, Herbert, and sisters, Bonnie Echols, Shirley Canada, and Opal Beacham. He is survived by his son, Jeff Pierce, his daughter-in-law Gayla Bennett Pierce (whom he loved like a daughter), the apple of his eye, granddaughter, McKinney Pierce, and his baby sister, Bobbie Slaton, and her husband Bobby. He is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews.
Funeral services will be held Friday, March 12, 2021, at 3:00 PM, graveside, at Belton Baptist Church (6553 Grove St, Lula, GA 30554), with visitation to follow, at the church. Rev. Bruce Fields will officiate. Memorial contributions may be made to Belton Baptist Church, or Enon Baptist Church (7321 Old Cornelia Hwy, Alto, GA 30510), in his name.
The family would like to thank the staff at Ashton Senior Living, and Compassus Hospice, for making his last days as comfortable as possible. We would also like to thank those who offered up prayer, for him, in the difficult days since Margie's passing. It is all very much appreciated.
Those wishing to send online condolences to the family may do so at littledavenport.com
Little & Davenport Funeral Home and Crematory, 355 Dawsonville Highway, SW, Gainesville, Georgia 30501 is in charge of arrangements.
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