Ray “Sleepy” Pearce Jr. of Benton passed away Sept. 24, at the VA Hospital. He was born July 31, 1925, to Ray Pearce Sr. and Iva Lee Pearce in Pine Bluff.
He received his education in Pine Bluff and University of Missouri and Arkansas State University. He was a member of First Christian Church in Pine Bluff.
Ray was employed by the Arkansas Gazette and retired in 1987 with 35 years of service. He then owned R & P Printing Co., where he worked side-by-side with wife Bettie and son Tommy and many others. He retired in 2001.
Ray was elected potentate of the Scimitar Shrine Temple in 2000. He was past president of South Central Shrine Association, president of Scimitar Highlanders, member of Alumina Lodge, Scottish Rite Bodies, Bendemeer Grotto and Royal Order of Jesters Court 12 and was recipient of DeMolay Legion of Honor.
Ray served his country in the Navy during World War II. He was aboard the USS Belle Grove from 1943 to 1946 and saw action in the South Pacific. He made three invasions, Leyte, Luzon and Iwo Jima. He was awarded five Bronze Stars.
He never shared any of his war experiences until the last few years. The one thing he loved to share was the account of the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima and then lowered and a larger flag was raised.
He was an avid Razorback fan and he and Bettie never missed a game in more than 30 years. He also enjoyed the horse races. His son Tommy would take him to Hot Springs to the races when he could no longer drive. He coached Little League Baseball for a number of years at Junior Deputy Field, where he coached both Skip and Tommy.
He was preceded in death by his parents, sons, Thomas Earl “Tommy” Pearce and Ronald Lee Pearce; his sisters, Edna Earle Bailey and Patsy Howell; a brother, Donald Lee Pearce; and his dog, Dee.
Ray is survived by his wife of 62 years and 10 months, Bettie (Atkins) Pearce; a son and daughter-in-law, Ray Pearce III (Skip) and Debbie Pearce of Hot Springs; two sisters-in-law, Hazel Miller of Hot Springs and Martha Sue Pearce Bost of Pine Bluff; a brother-in-law, Jimmy Atkins of Hot Springs; seven nephews; one niece; and special friends, Roger Benge and J. Michael Jackson.
Funeral service was held on Tuesday, Sept. 27, at Little Rock Funeral Home, with the Rev. Mike Snell officiating.
Memorials may be made to Scimitar Temple Memorial Fund, 1 Scimitar Circle, Little Rock, AR 72009, or Pulaski County Humane Society, 14600 Colonel Glenn Road, Little Rock, AR 72210.
Family comments: Ray was a good provider and loved his home and taking care of his family. He and Bettie loved to dance to the '30s and '40s big band music, and they won dance contests. He loved life and lived it to the fullest.