James Pierce Brane was born Sunday, October 25, 1936 in Wabash, Indiana to Glenn and Mary Catherine (Baker) Brane. While yet a young boy, Pierce’s family moved to Marion, Indiana where he spent most of his boyhood until he finished his undergraduate degree in chemistry from Marion College. He was active in his high school band, track team and baseball team. As a boy, he decided to be a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals when most of his buddies chose the Chicago Cubs. While attending Marion College, he was part of a men’s quartet that sang and traveled as representatives of the college.
Pierce met Ruth E. Hildebrandt at a summer youth camp in 1956. They were married April 20, 1957; then moved to Brookings, South Dakota in 1958. He then lived in Sioux Falls and Mitchell. In his earlier years, Pierce was active with barbershop choruses and quartets. He was part of the organization, Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America (SPEBSQSA). At age 29, he was the youngest member to serve as president for the Central States District of the Society. Pierce also used his musical abilities in the churches where he was actively involved. For many years, he directed church choirs, led the congregational singing and sang solos.
For most of his career, Pierce was in sales. His friendly demeanor and easy going style served to make him a natural at promoting products and services. He completed a Master’s degree in the 80’s and for a brief period worked with the South Central Community Action Program serving as their director of Alcohol and Drug Treatment in Mitchell. While living in South Dakota, Pierce also enjoyed the hobby of raising and riding horses. Pierce’s early love for the St. Louis Cardinals turned out to be a life-long passion. He followed all their games, attended many games either by television or in person, and knew all their history and stats. He almost always wore something red; be it a Cardinals jacket, a ball cap or his signature red western hat.
Upon retirement, Pierce and Ruth relocated to the Shawnee area of Kansas City. While living in Kansas, Pierce was a member of the St. Joseph (MO) Voices of America Barbershop Chorus for a brief time. He also worked part time with Balls Food Store and Target Stores. As a product demonstrator, it was no surprise that he made many new friends along the way. He epitomized the expression: “He never met a stranger.”
Pierce is survived by his wife of nearly sixty years, Ruth; five children, Lynette Lloyd, Bradley Brane and wife Anne, Sondra Bernard, Carmen Mueller and husband Roger and Angela Egbadon. He also has seven grandchildren, eight great grandchildren, as well as numerous nieces, nephews and a host of dear friends. He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Verdean “Dean” Brane.