Larry Pearce, who passed away January 11 at the age of 75, was distinguished in the speed skating world before moving to Rainbow in 2004. After relocating to his final residence, Pearce distinguished himself as a community member.
“He really enjoyed what he was doing. He was a person who always had to find a mountain to climb,” said his widow, Nita Pearce. “Everything that he tackled in life he just went in with no reservations.”
At the time of his death, Pearce chaired the Rainbow Municipal Water District’s Budget and Finance Committee, was the vice-chair of the I-15 Corridor Design Review Board and the treasurer of Rainbow Against the Quarry, and served on the boards of the Rainbow Community Planning Group and the Rainbow Property Owners Association. He was also involved with the monitoring of the Rosemary’s Mountain site for which a quarry is planned.
“He has just been everywhere,” said Rainbow resident Nita Delnay. “I think the world would be a lot better place if we had more people like him.”
Pearce was born on March 27, 1933, in Walteria, CA, which is now part of Torrance. He grew up in Torrance and left high school to join the Air Force during the Korean War. Pearce served in Okinawa during his military service and had a communications role with the Air Force.
He also obtained his GED degree while in the military, and after his discharge he attended Long Beach State College, where he earned both a Bachelor of Science degree and a Masters of Business Administration. He would later earn a law degree from Western State University.
Professionally Pearce was active in property management and small business consulting, and he taught small business entrepreneurship at Fullerton College for 35 years. His property management activities gave him his initial community planning experience, as he became active in the Westlake Community Advisory Planning Board. He eventually spent eight years on that board, including two years as the board chair.
Pearce took up ice skating when he was in the Boy Scouts and his den mother was Norda Zamboni, who took the boys in her troop to her husband’s ice rink in Paramount. Pearce had hoped to play basketball but was told by his doctor that he had weak ankles, and his doctor suggested that he take up ice skating.
Frank Zamboni developed the first ice surfacing machine in 1948, and Pearce drove the first Zamboni machine as part of an agreement where he would maintain the ice at Frank Zamboni’s Iceland Skating Rink in Paramount in exchange for skating time.
Pearce later started the Glacier Falls Speed Skating Club in Anaheim. In 1963, Pearce set a world record for a 50-mile skate; his time of 3 hours, 28 minutes, and 39.8 seconds broke the previous world record by 45 minutes.
Although Pearce never competed in the Olympic Games, he was an official for the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid and also served as a color announcer for the 1980 Olympics. He organized speed skating meets in the Los Angeles area and also announced and officiated events throughout the United States.
Pearce was also active in the United States Power Squadrons, where he taught safe boating skills. “He had a very active, interesting life,” his widow said.
Pearce retired from speed skating after the 1980 Olympics to go to law school. He received his Juris Doctor degree in 1984 but never took the bar exam. “He just felt that with the kind of work that we did that it was beneficial to be able to read and understand the law,” Nita Pearce said.
Pearce focused on his business after completing law school. He retired in 2004 and moved to Rainbow. The small, rural setting appealed to Pearce and his wife, and they settled in the Oak Crest Estates mobile home park.
That would eventually make Pearce the only Rainbow Community Planning Group member living west of Interstate 15. His experience with the Westlake Community Advisory Planning Board led him to attend Rainbow Community Planning Group meetings so that he could offer his expertise. In 2005, the planning group created a Code Enforcement Subcommittee.
A planning group subcommittee is not limited to elected planning group board members, and Pearce was invited to serve on the subcommittee. In July 2006, he was appointed as the Rainbow Community Planning Group’s representative to the I-15 Corridor Design Review Board, and in November 2006 he was elected to a four-year term on the planning group board itself.
In June 2007, the Rainbow Municipal Water District created the Budget and Finance Committee, and on August 6, 2007, Pearce was selected as the committee’s initial chair. “The work that he did for the water district as chairman of our Budget and Finance Committee was just stellar,” said Rainbow MWD board member Rua Petty.
“He was very interested in what went on in the community,” Nita Pearce said. “He was an extremely knowledgeable straight-shooting guy.”
Larry and Nita Pearce married in 1998. Larry Pearce had four daughters from a previous marriage, and Nita Pearce had two sons. The six children have combined for ten grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Larry Pearce is also survived by a brother in Alaska and a sister in Oregon.
Pearce was diagnosed with cancer on December 15, although the cancer had spread beyond the ability of a cure. He passed away at his home.
“It’s a real tragedy to lose Larry like this,” Petty said.
A memorial service will be held January 25 at the Oak Crest Estates clubhouse. The memorial will begin at 2 p.m.