By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer
For all the things that keep Joan Pierret busy, one thing you can say is that she’s involved.
She’s involved with raising money for EASTAR Health System’s auxiliary.
She’s involved with cooking for bereaved families at her church.
She’s involved with making the best bid in a bridge game.
About the only thing Joan Pierret wasn’t involved with was milking the cows on the Iowa farm where she grew up.
“I wasn’t what you’d call an outdoor person,” she said. “My mother, she’d milk the cows. I still don’t like to go outdoors to work.”
Pierret grew up on a 240-acre farm near Jefferson, Iowa.
One thing that did keep Pierret and her family busy was church.
“My mother was in Catholic Daughters, and Dad was in the Knights (of Columbus),” she said. “That was your social life in that day and age.”
After high school, she got a job at Iowa State University in nearby Ames, where she met her future husband, Jim Pierret. After they got married, they moved to Libertyville, Ill.
In 1967, the Pierrets and their six sons moved to Muskogee, where Jim Pierret became a tech manager for Fansteel.
Joan Pierret stayed home to raise the boys.
“They were all very involved in sports,” she said. “They all played Little League baseball, and most played football in junior high.”
Pierret said her two oldest sons went to the state high school championships in tennis, and the two youngest sons went to state championships in wrestling.
The boys were a handful, she said. “But they all turned out well.”
Meet Joan Pierret
HOMETOWN: Jefferson, Iowa.
CAREER: Volunteer and homemaker.
EDUCATION: Jefferson High School, class of 1952.
FAMILY: Husband, Jim; sons, Mike, Charles, Steven, Jim Jr., Peter, Brian.
CHURCH: St. Joseph Catholic Church.
HOBBIES: Cooking, bridge, knitting.
Cooking for a
Joan Pierret uses one of her hobbies, cooking, to help minister to grieving parishioners at her church, St. Joseph Catholic Church.
She and Rita Roller are the co-chairwomen of St. Joseph’s program preparing meals for funerals.
“We usually settle on a cut of pork loin or we buy fried chicken a lot of times,” she said. “We ask if people can donate a dessert.”
The church often serves meals after funerals. Pierret said most Catholic services are at 10:30 or 11 a.m.
“When we were growing up, people would go back to their home after the funerals,” she said. “That would give families a chance to get together and talk.”
The ministry helps in other ways. Pierret said she was getting cookies together for a Rosary service for a recently deceased parishioner.
Pierret sees her cooking as a way to follow the Beatitudes, which were expressed by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount.
“He said, ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted,’” Pierret said.
She’s been involved with the ministry for as long as St. Joseph has had a congregation, about 20 years.
“And for at least 10 years before that at Sacred Heart,” she said.
Pierret considers herself a pretty good cook, “but not a fancy cook.”
She said she also prepares dishes for the church’s annual Quiche and Salad luncheon.
“I usually do the quiche Lorraine,” she said. “But I like to experiment with the salads.”
game with friends
The sunny living room of the Pierret home features all sorts of things Jean Pierret loves. One piece of furniture has delicate ceramic angels representing the months of the year. An antique desk is in one corner.
Two tables take up space near the back of the room. That’s where she and friends play bridge, a game Pierret has enjoyed for years.
It all started when she was working as a secretary at Iowa State University and she met a student, Jim Pierret.
“He got me involved with it,” she said. “I started playing bridge when he was in college.”
Bridge proved to be a way for her to make friends when the Pierret family moved to Muskogee in 1967.
“By 1969, I was playing in a group. We were all from St. Joseph and we always had eight people,” she said.
The bridge players all had kids in school, she said. “We’d play from 10:30 in the morning until it was time to pick our kids up. Two times a month, always on Tuesdays. We’d start talking about our kids at school and their illnesses. Then began talking about them as teenagers. Then about our grandkids. Now the conversation is about our aches and pains.”
Pierret said she enjoys bridge because it’s a challenge.
“Every hand is different,” she said. “It’s just a game you have to think about.”
Many of her bridge partners are old, she said.
“So many young people work all day. They want to be challenged when they get home. They want to be entertained,” she said.
A need to
Pierret began volunteering shortly after she moved to Muskogee. She started with her sons’ school activities. She later was active in a garden club.
Soon, she got a call that would keep her volunteering for at least 30 years.
“When Brian was in high school, I decided I was going to do something besides PTA,” she said.
That was when the auxiliary for Muskogee’s hospital asked her to join. She said the main reasons she stayed with the auxiliary for so long were the people and the cause it supported.
The auxiliary used to raise money for hospital equipment. The High Fever Follies was a major fundraiser that kept Pierret busy.
“It was a variety show,” she recalled. “We’d do a dance or something with a costume. It was a big undertaking.”
The auxiliary remains busy raising money for programs at what is now EASTAR Health System.
“We furnish newspapers for the patients. We paid for a TV for the cancer center and a sandbox for the child care center,” she said.
The auxiliary’s main fundraising tool is the EASTAR gift shop. Pierret works there once a week.
“We meet with customers at the store, we stock shelves. The pop machine is one of the biggest tasks,” she said. “We’re really pretty busy. We’d be very quiet for a while, then six people can come in at once.”
HOW DID YOU BECOME AN OKIE FROM MUSKOGEE?
“I transferred here when my husband worked for Fansteel in 1967. He was a tech manager and then a plant manager. I had all six boys with me and Brian was only 9 months old.”
WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT MUSKOGEE?
“The size of the town and the weather. When I look at the north with all the snow, I hate it. I have not been crazy about the heat, but it’s better than the snow.”
WHAT WOULD MAKE MUSKOGEE A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE?
“If people took pride in their property and their yards.”
WHAT DO YOU DO FOR A LIVING IN MUSKOGEE?
Homemaker and volunteer.
WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?
“I like to play bridge.”
WHAT OKIE FROM MUSKOGEE DO YOU ADMIRE?
“Ed and Carlene Falleur. Ed is the director of Catholic Charities. They are just all-around good people. They’re involved in a prison ministry. They take people into their homes. They’re always so willing to help.”
WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE THING TO HAPPEN TO YOU IN MUSKOGEE?
“When Jim was ordained as a deacon at the church. That was such a memorable occasion.”
HOW WOULD YOU SUM UP MUSKOGEE IN 30 WORDS OR LESS?
“It’s fun and about the right size. You can get around easily, get from one place to the next. You have practically everything you need here.”