A Vietnam Veteran, awarding winning newsman, longtime Morro Bay resident, business owner, community volunteer, and city councilman, has died after a courageous battle with cancer.
A native of Glendale, Calif., William “Bill” Peirce, 66, lived in Morro Bay since 1968, his son, Billy told Estero Bay News. His dad served two tours in the Navy in Vietnam in the late-1960s, serving aboard the U.S.S. Brush and U.S.S. Berkeley. He also served as a Naval Reservist.
After the war, he moved to Morro Bay and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Cal Poly. Peirce worked in TV news at KEYT as a reporter and news director. He also took his talents to KCOY TV and during his journalism career, won two Golden Mic Awards from the Radio & Television News Association of Southern California, Billy said.
He owned and operated the One Hour Photo Store in Morro Bay in the 1980s and ‘90s, giving up the business as digital cameras were taking over the industry.
He went to work at Coast Electronics/Radio Shack specializing in the sales and service of emergency radios. His former boss and friend, John Weiss, said, “Bill Peirce was a model employee for over 22 years. He excelled in managing our Communications Division, which consisted primarily in providing 2-way radio solutions for public safety, government, and businesses such as hotels and convalescent homes.”
He took that strong work ethic with him when he was elected to the City Council in 1996 along with Dave Elliott and Cathy Novak as Mayor. (Novak gave up her Council seat mid-term to run for Mayor and when she was elected by voters the City Council appointed Janice Peters to fill her seat.)
Peirce was re-elected in 2000 and won a third term in 2004. He lost re-election to a fourth term in 2008, when he came in third place behind Carla Borchard (now Wixom) and Noah Smukler.
At 12 years, he was the second-longest serving Morro Bay City Council member behind Peters. His “partner in crime,” Elliott (the two twice ran as a team) died a few years ago.
One of his many contributions on council came near the end of the last century, as the infamous Y2K concerns were building. Peirce along with the fire and police departments led the City in setting up an emergency operations command center and helped organize “table top” training sessions that brought all of the City’s governmental leaders together in one room to better manage communications during emergencies.
He was a long-time member of the Police Department’s Community Volunteers, responding to emergencies, and pitching in at special events like the Harbor Festival, Car Show and for many years, the Annual Morro Bay Merchant’s Association Street Fairs.
If there was something big happening in Morro Bay — from special events to fires and traffic accidents — Bill Peirce was always there helping in whatever way needed.
He was also active with Morro Bay’s Neighborhood Watch Program and was especially fond of and helped organize the Annual Caroling Cops Parade for nearly 30 years. He even played Santa Claus a few times at the City’s Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony.
He was a leader of the Merchant’s Association and for nearly 20 years, he helped plan and put on the Annual 4th of July Family Picnic and Fireworks Shows at Tidelands Park.
The Chamber of Commerce honored Peirce with the “2008 Citizen of the Year” award.
He joined the Rotary Club of Morro Bay in 2009 and was Club President in 2011.
“Bill was a big part of Morro Bay and a big part of our Club,” said current Rotary President Tim Olivas. “Bill is now at peace and may be gone from this world but he will never be forgotten. He will be missed dearly.”
Weiss said Peirce, “was a friend and trusted advisor. Bill came with a constant smile, and for good reason, he made others happy and was himself happy without complaint.
“Recently when Bill was sick, he never complained, but just kept an incredibly positive outlook on life in general. Finally, Bill was a great father and while his parents were alive, a very giving son.”
Bill Peirce is survived by son Billy, wife Randy, and his beloved cat.
A celebration of Bill Peirce’s extraordinary life is set for 9 a.m., Saturday, June 4 at Tidelands Park in Morro Bay.