CHARLES F. PIERSON, JR.
Charles F. Pierson, Jr., 68, of Livingston, went to be with his Lord and Savior, surrounded by his family at his ranch home east of Livingston, early Saturday morning, January 5, 2013. Cremation has taken place and a memorial service will be held at 11 am, Saturday, January 12 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Livingston. Rev. David Gunderson of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church will officiate. A fellowship Luncheon will follow the service. Arrangements are under the direction of Franzen-Davis Funeral Home and Crematory.
Charles F. Pierson, Jr. was born in Minneapolis on April 28, 1944 to Charles F. Pierson and Catherine (Piper) Pierson. He grew up working on the family farm in Minnesota as well as other neighboring farms. The family spent summer vacations in Montana at a guest ranch near Utica neighboring the old Highland Livestock Co. family ranch, which had been sold in the 40’s. In 1960, the family purchased the present ranch at Livingston. Charlie graduated from high school in Minnesota, and immediately went west to the ranch, and to Montana State University. He graduated after four years from MSU in Agricultural Business, with minors in Ag Economics and English.
While at MSU, Charlie also enlisted in ROTC and graduated as a second lieutenant in the Army Transportation Corps. After a short stint in Virginia, he served in Vietnam in 1967 and 1968. His platoon was in a light truck company of 2 ½ ton trucks (deuce and a half's), which hauled cargo throughout the southern half of Vietnam. The convoys had high exposure to the enemy so Charlie saw plenty of action, especially during the TET offensive in early 1968. Towards the end of his tour, he was awarded command of his Company, and earned two Bronze Stars. Charlie’s Army career finished out at Fort Carson, Colorado. After this, he returned to the ranch, got married to Whitney, and had two sons. Charlie spent years ranching all over Montana on ranches purchased or leased. He also managed to spend 14 winters on the Big Sky Pro Ski Patrol, working in avalanche control and explosives. Lifelong friendships were made with a band of brothers at Big Sky. Together they explored ice fields, mountain tops, and skied many places seldom seen. But large scale ranching was in his blood, which almost ended during the 80's when interest rates went out of sight and years of drought followed. By selling off three ranches, he barely held on to the Home Ranch at Livingston.
Highland Livestock operations have stabilized now, with the help of his friend, mentor, and partner, Whitney MacMillan; son Matt and family; and wife, Leslie. He also enjoyed the friendship and commitment of many hired men and volunteer cowboys. Sometimes, Charlie led them into some strange and wild adventures, but they always stuck with him. Charlie loved the ranches, both the Home Ranch at Livingston and the PN Ranch at Winifred. He constantly looked for ways to improve the land, combining stewardship with production. Charlie’s love of God was immortalized through his work at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. He spent decades on the vestry, much of the time as Senior Warden. The culmination of his work was the removal of the old rectory to make room for the addition that greatly improved the little church on 3rd and Lewis. This was truly an act of faith, as finances were very slim, but God expects us to persevere. Charlie was preceded in death by son, Chad, which was a great source of sadness to him. Survivors include his wife Leslie of Livingston; two sisters, Margaret “Peggy” Cost of Minneapolis, Minn. and San Francisco, Calif. and Katherine “Kitty” Crosby and her husband, David of Medina, Minn.; son Matt and his wife, Kristina, and their sons Jakob and Nikolas of Livingston, along with multiple nieces and nephews. Charlie loved his multitude of friends from all walks of life. Most of all, his last years with Leslie, aka “Bailey”, were the most treasured of all as he and his “Bail” were inseparable and eternally in love. From skiing at Big Sky, to long rides, brandings, and shipping’s, they were always together. In the end, Bailey became a devoted caregiver throughout Charlie’s last days. This was not “part of the deal”, but Bailey carried the burden with her usual positive determination. Charlie walked with God, and had a strong spiritual commitment and love for America. He was a leader of men, and loved his calling. Do not mourn, for he is in a better place.
If so desired, memorials may be directed to St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 130 S. 3rd St., Livingston, MT 59047, or to the Montana State University College of Agriculture, P.O. Box 172860, Bozeman, MT 59717-2860.