Called a visionary, a gentleman and a kind and generous man, Covington suffered a blow with the death of Pierce Cline on Nov. 3. None can feel the loss like his widow Margie. What started as a blind date in 1958, turned into the love of a lifetime.
Margie came to Covington to teach in 1957 and met her husband in March of 1958. The two spent summer vacations, enjoying time with family and having dinners with family and friends. They were married in Brookhaven on Nov. 2, 1958 - 54 years and one day before Pierce died of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
"He was a bachelor in town and he couldn't find any girls, so he would participate in things like choirs in Atlanta," Margie said with a chuckle. "He wasn't as musically talented as he was interested in music."
An Oxford College graduate, Pierce continued on to the University of Georgia where he played trumpet in the Red Coat Band and sang in the men's glee club. A suggestion of voice lessons as a birthday gift from his family was turned down. Instead, he learned to fly in the 40s, something that became such a big part of his life that he had a plane and hanger on the couple's property in Social Circle.
The couple had three children Carol, Charles and Paul, six grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.
Pierce was an active member of Allen Memorial Methodist Church in Oxford, a scout master prior to the couple marrying and a hiker and consummate traveler. His father was a Methodist minister and Pierce sat on the same pew at Allen Memorial Methodist from the time he was 11, when the family moved to Oxford, and beyond.
"He was so loving," Margie said, with a small smile. "A perfect gentleman. And he just loved so dearly."
An enthusiastic hiker, Pierce hiked the entire Appalachian Trail at the age of 60, with friend Rob Fowler. They hiked in Nepal and crossed England.
"He used to tell me, I can carry everything I need on my back," said Margie.
Pierce was involved in cattle farming with his father prior to going into land development, according to his wife.
And when they were able, he made generous donations to several Covington organizations - all of them anonymous.
He was greatly involved throughout his life. From Oxford College, the Community Foundation and the Covington Y, to Georgia Perimeter College, of which he was instrumental in bringing to Newton County, Pierce often envisioned something, then stepped back and watched it come to life.
"We are grateful for the important role that Pierce Cline played in helping to bring GPC to Newton County and appreciate the many forms of support that Pierce has provided to the college. Many of us will personally miss his presence on campus and the encouragement, friendship and wisdom that he provided to so many who work at GPC," said Jeff Tarnowski, vice president for Institutional Advancement, on behalf of GPC.
"He would get people together and tell them his ideas, and they would say ‘Why' and Pierce would always come back with ‘Why not?' That was one of his big sayings," said Margie.
The couple spent time traveling together all around the world, from the Amazon River in South America to European countries.
"He would spend money on travel when he wasn't a bit interested in what I put in the house," Margie said, laughing. "Our last trip was in July, four years ago, to the Baltic Coast. And it was wonderful, just absolutely wonderful, she said, staring out the large windows of their home.
And even as his illness began to take more and more from him, Pierce never stopped envisioning, including his memorial service, according to Margie.
"One morning, he got up when he could barely walk, and I found him in the rocking chair writing. He was planning his memorial service," she said.
Pierce was presented the R. Carl Chandler Award last month, a lifetime achievement award, which was given by his beloved Oxford College. During the presentation, Pierce's friend Rob Fowler III called Cline a "consummate path-finder and mentor" to him.
Pierce's gentle nature, his tenacious can-do spirit, is evident in many places throughout the county, none more than in the home he made with his family: his children, grandchildren, and a wife of more than five decades that he still held hands with. In that home and throughout the county, Pierce will never be forgotten.
As the morning turned to afternoon, Margie sat in her chair, a mirror image of the one next to it that was her husband's, and watched the fall leaves swirl outside their home.
"It hasn't set in just yet. There's sadness, but it really hasn't sunk in just yet. But he's everywhere here. When I woke up this morning and came out here, there was this fog and the leaves on the trees were just wonderful, and I thought to myself, thank you, Pierce."