Obituaries for 2018
Obituaries for 2018

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Jimmie Olin “Jim” Pierson, 80, an expert in disability ministry, died Jan. 4, 2018, in Tennessee after a brief battle with cancer. He was the founding director of the Christian Church Foundation for the Handicapped (which became Christian Churches Disability Ministry, and now Ability Ministry) in 1984 and served as its president until 2009. He served as executive director of the East Tennessee Children’s Rehabilitation Center in Knoxville from 1967 to 1984. He was a published author (No Disabled Souls, Exceptional Teaching: A Comprehensive Guide for Including Students with Disabilities, and Just Like Everybody Else) who also served for several years as a special education consultant for Standard Publishing. He taught at Christian universities and directed seminars and workshops on how the church can minister to persons with disabilities. Mr. Pierson was born in Fall Branch, TN, son of Bascom and Georgia Pierson. He has two sisters, Peggy Doty and Barbara Zollman. He married Norma Grubbs, June 11, 1963. He is the father of three girls, Rebecca Pierson, Rachel Simpson, and Erika Nazerias; grandfather to six: Derek, Sean, Haley, Julie, Alexander, and Elaina; and great-grandfather of one, Mia. He was valedictorian of Fall Branch High School in 1955. He earned a BA from Milligan College in 1959. He earned an MA from the University of Tennessee in 1962, and completed postgraduate work in special education and speech pathology from 1965 to 1977. He received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Milligan College in 1991. He served as an associate professor of English and speech at Johnson University from 1960 to 1967 and as a part-time associate professor of special disabilities education from 1967 to 2017. He was an adjunct professor in special education at Milligan College from 1978 to 1995. He was the 2003 recipient of the Henri Nouwen Award, which acknowledges individuals who reflect compassion, commitment, and dedication to ministry as well as servanthood that values and esteems people with developmental disabilities. He toured the world to raise awareness for disability ministry. He served on many boards and committees in support of those with special needs. He also was an avid gardener with a particular interest in hostas (he had more than 200 varieties). He was a longtime member of Woodlawn Christian Church, Knoxville, where he served in many capacities: elder, chairman of the Disability Ministry Team, and Sunday school teacher, among them. Visitation and a celebration of life service was at Woodlawn Christian Church on Jan. 7; graveside service and burial was Jan. 8 at Woodlawn Cemetery, Knoxville. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Jim Pierson Memorial Scholarship Fund, Johnson University, 7900 Johnson Drive Knoxville, TN 37998; Abilityministry.com; or Woodlawn Christian Church, 4339 Woodlawn Pike, Knoxville, TN 37920. Gentry Griffey Funeral Chapel is serving the family; an online guestbook is at www.gentrygriffey.com.

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