Dan Pierce, Illinois State Legislator and 3-term Highland Park Mayor

Remember the life of prominent community member Dan Pierce.

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Dan and Rhoda Pierce (at right end of table) as part of a delegation of Illinois legislators meeting then-Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, in Jerusalem, 1984.

Daniel Marshall Pierce was a member of the Illinois House of Representatives, mayor of Highland Park, and president of the North Shore Water Reclamation District. He died on Feb. 13, at 91.

He was a longtime supporter of JUF and served as a member of the JUF Government Affairs Committee for many years. 

Born in Chicago, Pierce graduated from New Trier High School, and then Harvard University for college and law school. 

During the Korean War, he served in the Air Force. When he returned home, he became a partner at the now-defunct law firm Altheimer, Gray, Naiburg, Strasburger & Lawton.

Throughout his career, Pierce focused much of his energy on the environment. As mayor, he initiated a recycling program and enacted a tree-protection ordinance.

During his two decades in the Illinois state legislature, from 1965-85, Pierce served on many committees and as the House Minority Whip. He also authored a special education bill for schoolchildren. 

"He was a humanist, a modernist, and a liberal," remembered stepson Eric Orner. "Public service and clean government were the values that animated him."

Pierce was elected Mayor of Highland Park--where he lived for most of his life--in 1987 and reelected in 1991 and 1999, serving until 2003. As mayor, Pierce worked to preserve a former American Legion building, served on the Sisters Cities Foundation, and helped pass legislation to make Clavey Road and Illinois Route 41 safer.

After his last mayoral term, Pierce served as president of the North Shore Water Reclamation District for over a decade. 

"He went to a Water Reclamation meeting the day before he died," said Rhoda Pierce, his wife of more than 39 years. "He never slowed down. It was never about him, but the constituency he served."

Pierce is survived by Rhoda (nee Kaplan); by his sons Andrew (Margalynne), Anthony (Teresa) and Theodore (Anne); and stepsons Eric (Blake) and Peter (Katie). He was the grandfather of Rebecca, Catherine, Oliver, Martin, Ellen, Phoebe and Roscoe, the loving brother of the late Ellen (Gardner) Grant and Susan (Louis) Axelrod. 

 

A memorial service was held in May at Makom Solel Lakeside in Highland Park.



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