John Marion Pearson, age 81, died peacefully, in the presence of his family, on August 15, 2022 in Knoxville, Tennessee after an extended illness.
Born May 4, 1941, at home, to Marion and Louise Pearson on the Pearson farm in Bells, Tennessee, John was the first of six siblings. He graduated from Bells High School in 1959 and in 1963 from the University of Tennessee Knoxville with a Bachelor of Science degree and went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Agricultural Science at UT in 1965. John then spent a wonderful summer in North Carolina working for that state’s agricultural department. He loved to recount that he was given his own truck to travel the state inspecting for crop pests. The one instruction he loved and laughed about was “not to park for lunch in front of a bar or saloon.”
He started work at RJ Reynolds in its food division and met his future wife Doris Brown in Winston-Salem. They were wed in 1968.
John and Doris moved to California to join Del Monte Foods in 1980 where he rose to the position of Director of Product Research. When Del Monte was acquired by corporate raiders in 1997, John left and turned to promoting American agricultural skills and technology in lesser developed countries, first in Africa and then in Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union. His many experiences cemented in him an understanding of the valuable contributions of American agriculture to the world. In later life, he returned to the Pearson family farm, enjoying its natural beauty of fields and woodlands. All his life, John carried with him the memories and strengths of the community of Bells, Tennessee, keeping up with neighbors’ and friends’ family histories and genealogies and proud of his connection with life in Crockett County.
Early on, John made a point of coming to the Pearson family’s weddings and
graduations, celebrating with the next generation their achievements and hopes.
Never at a loss to provide a witty remark on life in details large and small, John
seasoned every conversation with his good humor and wry observations. His
obligations to his and Doris’ children were of first importance. He was very proud of his son Jay’s Eagle Scout achievement and his hard work to gain an MBA. He and his daughter Katherine formed a special bond; Katherine would write and sing songs that mirrored their love and attachment for one another.
John is survived by his wife of 54 years, Doris Brown Pearson of Concord, CA, son Jay Pearson, of Redondo Beach, CA, daughter Katherine Elizabeth Pearson of Concord, CA, and grandsons Matthew James Pearson and Andrew Joseph Pearson of Redondo Beach, CA. He is survived by his siblings, William Robert (Maggie) Pearson of Pittsboro, NC, Richard McQuiston (Freida) Pearson of Memphis, TN, Virginia Jean (Mike) Galyon of Knoxville, TN, Mary Katherine Pearson of Birmingham, AL, and Joe Wilson (Karen Strauss) Pearson of Scottsdale, AZ; two nieces, two nephews, and seven grand nieces and nephews.
The Pearson family would like to specially recognize and thank Ginger Holladay (John’s niece) and Jean Galyon for the wonderful and dedicated care, love and support for John throughout his illness. We thank in addition Cherry Edwards and Bud Edwards and other friends who visited John and boosted his morale with each visit.
The Pearson Family invites friends to a time of visiting and remembrances on Friday, October 7,2022, from 5 P.M. to 7 P.M., at the Bells Funeral Home, 5342 College Street, Bells, TN. Memorials may be made to Friends of the Smokies, in support of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at https://friendsofthesmokies.org.