John Thomas “Tom” Pearl

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

John Thomas “Tom” Pearl of Springfield, Mo., passed away December 27, 2018, at the age of 76. Tom was the middle child of five children born November 21, 1942, to Charles Ray and Christine Elizabeth (Talbert) Pearl in Cassville, Mo. August 24, 1968, he married the love of his life Peggy Tuter Pearl. He graduated from Neosho High School and entered the U.S. Air Force at age 17. Following basic training, he was stationed in Germany and Italy with NATO forces to provide top-level communication.

Close interaction with others from all over the U.S. and Europe provided important, life-long learning experiences. After 4.5 years of military service, he entered college completing a B.S. in Industrial Management from Southwest Missouri State College (now Missouri State University) and a M.S. in Industrial Electronics from Central Missouri State College (now University of Central Missouri). Tom returned to MSU in 1971 to teach Industrial Management until his retirement in 2001. During his time at MSU, he provided department and university leadership in faculty guidance, student group sponsorship, program accreditation and planning and design. Tom maintained certifications in multiple professional organizations too numerous to name.

Family was very important to Tom and he rarely missed important events in the lives of family members, especially his beloved nieces and nephews. Tom enjoyed travel, reading, the arts, and nature. He was a keen observer of the world and people around him. Tom enjoyed serious dialog about many issues and ideas. He had a warm, cheerful smile and a kind spirit, which touched the hearts of all those who knew and loved him. He was an avid Lady Bear Basketball and Volleyball fan.

During all of his adult life, Tom was active in the Democratic Party and many campaigns “from the courthouse to the White House.” He provided behind the scenes leadership in strategic planning, coalition building and voter registration. In addition, he served as Executive Director of the Missouri Democratic Party and volunteer campaign manager for various races. In his diverse activities, Tom visited and worked in all 114 Missouri counties on campaigns and voter turnout. He did his homework and knew the many aspects of the specific county.

Tom was preceded in death by his parents, maternal grandparents, James and Adah H. Horner, paternal grandparents Missie and Glenn Pearl and oldest brother, Charles. He is survived by his wife, sister, Mary Beth Gardner (Fred), their children, Jeffery Thomas, Katie Dunlavy (Mike); brother, James Pearl (Marilyn), their daughters, Becky Ford (Ben), Christie Nesbitt (John); brother, Glenn Pearl (Sharon); his sons, Glenn Michael Pearl (Becky), Ryan Pearl (Nancy); step-children, Scott Duncan (Joanna), Jasa Duncan; children of Charles Pearl, Lisa Pearl, Brian Erickson (Wendy), Darrah Roof; sister-in-law, Kitty Pearl; and many cousins and friends, especially Bob (Sue) Mitchell, Mary Jane Montgomery King, and Steven Mitchem.

Services were at 11:00 on Jan 4, 2019, at University Heights Baptist Church, Springfield, Mo., under the care of Gorman-Scharpf Funeral Home. Burial was at Missouri Veterans Cemetery in Springfield. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Christine E. Pearl Scholarship at the MSU Foundation, 901 S. National, Springfield, MO 65897.