Thelma Jean Atwood Pearce


Thelma Jean Atwood Pearce of Alpine, Texas, passed away peacefully on April 15, 2021, in Smyer, Texas, after a short illness. She had 93 years of active life starting in Edinburg, Texas, where she grew up on a farm with five siblings who all preceded her. 

Jean raised chickens on the farm and sold eggs, spurring her early interest in business. She had a job at the cotton gin, weighing, shipping and keeping records for the company, and eventually starting her own cotton brokerage. 

In high school, Jean was a cheerleader and a member of the Sergeanettes. She graduated from Edinburg High School at 16, and junior college at 18. After the war, at age 20, she married Allan Ray Pearce when he returned from the U.S. Marine Corps. They moved to College Station, Texas, so Allan could attend Texas A&M University. 

At some point, Jean’s interests turned to elementary education, and with four children, she earned a masters degree in administration. She taught her children (and others) to read, swim, and succeed, and to always be confident in themselves. She was forever true to her faith in Jesus.

She flourished in the education system as a teacher and, later, principal, receiving accolades from Harlingen ISD. She spoke of the importance of education long after she retired and moved to Alpine, where son Clifton had already set up a medical clinic. She operated the facility for many years, even after Clifton’s untimely death.

Jean was always busy. She was active in First Baptist Church in whatever town she was living.  For several churches she served as Sunday school teacher or superintendent, or building and grounds leader or in mission education. Alpine First Baptist was her last and most lengthy place of service.

Jean was also civic-minded, serving as chairman of Big Bend Regional Hospital District for many years, and she thoroughly enjoyed the Delta Kappa Gamma education sorority.

Jean always maintained that her favorite times were when her extended family would come to town for the Alpine Fourth of July festivities. Over the years, both children and grandchildren, following her late husband’s example, played in the community band at the park after the parade.

Jean is survived by three children, seven grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren, who lovingly refer to her as Afene.

In lieu of flowers, Jean’s wishes were to donate to the First Baptist Church in Alpine, or plant a tree in her memory. Jean loved trees. 

A memorial service will be on Saturday, May 8, 2021, at 10:30 a.m., and interment will follow at Elm Grove Cemetery.