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Dr. Rev. Richard ‘Dick’ L. Pearson

Jul 26, 2008

ESTHERVILLE – Dr. Rev. Richard “Dick” L. Pearson, 80, died Wednesday, July 23, 2008.

Memorial services will be 2 p.m. on Wednesday, July 30, at the United Methodist Church in Estherville, under the direction of Schuchert Funeral Home, Spirit Lake.

Richard was born Jan. 19, 1928, in Evanston, Ill., to Leonard Olaf and Hannah Jensina Pearson. He grew up in Brookfield, Ill., and graduated from the Riverside-Brookfield High School.

He graduated from Cornell College, Mt. Vernon in 1949, where he participated in intercollegiate athletics, student government and the college choir. During his senior year, he served as the student body president.

On Aug. 25, 1950, Richard and Ramalee E. Resler were married in Wathena, Kan.

In 1953, he graduated with a Master in Divinity from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill., and completed further graduate work at Northwestern University, Garrett Seminary and the St. Paul School of Theology, Kansas City, Mo.

In 1953, he was appointed the pastor of the St. Ansgar-Little Cedar Methodist churches and was ordained on Oct. 10, 1954, by Bishop F. Gerald Ensley, and in 1960 he was appointed to the Crescent Park Methodist Church, Sioux City.

While in Sioux City, he initiated the Living Nativity, an outdoor Christmas pageant, and completed construction of Crescent Park’s Christian education building, He was a member of the board of directors of St. Luke Medical Center, and he served on the boards of the local chapter of the NAACP, the Sioux City Council of Churches and the local Iowa Civil Liberties Union.

In 1965, Richard worked in the Delta Ministry at Hattiesburg, Miss., which was sponsored by the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.

In 1968, he was appointed pastor of the Estherville United Methodist Church, Estherville, where he led the campaign to erect a new church-in-the-round to replace the old church building that had been condemned.

Subsequently, he served as senior pastor of Asbury Methodist Church in Bettendorf, from 1973 to 1978, where he organized the annual Good Friday Walk through the streets of Bettendorf, comprised of hundreds of persons following a Christ figure carrying a cross reenacting the path Christ walked on Good Friday. In Bettendorf, he served as a member of the Board of Directors of Iowa Methodist Medical Center, South Iowa Methodist Homes and the Urban Mission Council in Des Moines.

In June 1978, Richard was asked to serve as senior pastor of First United Methodist Church in Des Moines, by Bishop Lance Webb and in 1979 he was invited by President Carter to attend a White House briefing on SALT II.

On Aug. 8, 1980, Rev. Pearson was presented the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity by Morningside College, Sioux City, for outstanding leadership in the Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church, particularly his “professional commitment to ministry and the betterment of mankind, and his unstinting service to the communities in which he has lived and served.”

In 1984, Bishop Wayne Clymer appointed him to serve as the Superintendent of the Sioux City District and in 1988 Richard was appointed to serve as the senior pastor of Grace United Methodist Church, Spencer. In Spencer, he served on the Board of Ordained Ministry, chaired the Spencer District Committee on Ordained Ministry and served as worship chairman of the North West Iowa Bible Conference Commission.

On May 17, 1992, Rev. Pearson retired from his active ministry and delivered his last sermon “Reflections on 40 Years in the Ministry.” However, he remained active in his commitment to the community both in Monarch Cove, Spirit Lake, and Friendship Village, Tempe, Ariz.

In 2004, he completed a life-long dream when he authored and had published a collection of Christmas stories, “Christmas Tales Revisited.”

Survivors include his beloved wife of 57 years, Ramalee, Friendship Village, Tempe, Ariz. and four sons, Timothy R. Pearson of Atlanta, Ga., Thomas L. Pearson, Tulsa, Okla., Philip K. Pearson, Spirit Lake, and David L. Pearson, Chicago, Ill., as well as his sister Jeanette Fornfeist, Houston, Texas.

In lieu of flowers memorials may be directed to the Richard L. and Ramalee E. Pearson Leadership Scholars Fund, Garrett Evangelical-Theological Seminary, Evanston, Ill., david.heetland@garrett.edu. Additionally, the family would appreciate personal messages and memories be submitted to pearsons@macsurfer.com.