A Cord of Three Strands:
Bill & Binny Pearce
November 2023 | Written by Maribeth Griessel
“Oh magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together,” Psalm 34:3, quoted a young man over 60 years ago when he proposed marriage to the young lady God had chosen to become his wife. Bill Pearce used that scripture, which became their personal favorite verse, when he asked Binny J. Hawkins to be his bride. And as Mr. and Mrs. Pearce have spent a lifetime exalting their Lord, He, in turn, has blessed them immeasurably.
Born in Stillwater, OK, William O. Pearce grew up in Drumright (OK) until 5th grade, at which time his family moved to Cleveland (Oklahoma, not Ohio!) He loved the sciences, music and drama, and particularly enjoyed sports….football, basketball and track. Bill’s dad was a pharmacist and his mom had earned her teaching certificate. He has one sister, who still lives in Cleveland. She and her husband were in the oil business for quite some time, and in her later years she taught art and music.
Binny was born in Enid, OK, and lived in Okarche (an Oklahoma City suburb) until a junior in high school. She particularly enjoyed classes taught by a business teacher, as well as journalism, editing both newspaper and yearbook. Her father was a school superintendent. Her sister, Arlene, and her husband were large ranchers. Sister Bunny and her husband live in Baltimore, MD, and have both headed departments at Johns Hopkins University, having lived and worked all over the world helping doctors create health programs in developing countries. Brother, Lon, was an airline pilot before retiring back in Oklahoma.
Bill and Binny met at the University of Oklahoma, when she was a speaker at a service at the Baptist Student Union. They married on August 5, 1960, in Carmen, OK. Mr. Pearce graduated with a BA in “The Letters” (meaning History, English and Philosophy, a triple major), then later earned a master’s degree from Midwestern Seminary in KCMO. Binny’s undergrad degree is in education, emphasis in Public Speaking, followed by two graduate degrees from UMKC in Education Administration and Education Specialist. Bill explains that is the equivalent of a doctorate, minus the dissertation.
Binny’s family attended the Congregational Church in Okarche. After moving to Carmen, she went to a Young Life Camp and became a believer. She shares, “The best thing that ever happened to me was meeting Jesus at YL camp.” During college she began attending a Baptist church. Bill wasn’t able to attend church regularly as a youth, as he worked at his father’s drugstore, which was open on Sundays. When he moved to Cleveland, he became active in the Baptist Church. The young couple remained Baptist until 1980 when they began attending Gashland. Bill added, “When we came to Gashland, we felt there were more people living out a personal faith in Christ than any other church in which we had participated.”
God blessed the Pearce family with three children. Bill understandably boasts, “Son Brad and his wife, ‘Sweet Sue’, have five great kids, ages 13 – 21. Brad has been on Young Life Staff for 35 years. Sue has been the dean of students at a private inner-city school. They live in Minneapolis.” Binny picks up the story, “Bryan and his wife, ‘Lovely Lonni’, have two boys, 19 and 22. Bryan is a software engineer and Lonni is a professor at Colorado University. They live just south of Estes Park.” And well known here at Gashland is daughter, Beth, and her husband Matt Armstrong, who live in KC and have two sons. Beth has been the Activities Director of a retirement center until last month when she assumed a new position as interim pastor at Antioch Community Church. Matt is director of the IT department at a large trucking company. In addition to their nine grandchildren, Bill and Binny enjoy their one great-grandchild.
Though Bill has served on Young Life Staff, he has spent the majority of his career in the insurance and financial planning arena. “I did both sales and a lot of training. The last job after I first retired was helping Gashland with their Capital Stewardship Campaigns.” Binny adds, “My career was in education at Platte County High School, where I was everything from teacher to principal. Prior to that, I served several years on Young Life Staff, was a stay-at-home mom when the children were small, then I went back to teaching.”
The Pearces lived next door to Gashland members Tom and Carol Cooper, so had heard great things about this church. In addition, Bill and Binny’s daughter, Beth, had attended Gashland with her children and loved it. For those reasons they decided to give our church a try. Bill also added, “Our dear friend, Mary Larrick also attended here. We were first impressed with the list of mission outreach groups they were supporting.”
“Our activities at the church have been extensive,” Binny explained. “Bill hs been an elder for several years, serving three terms. He taught many Sunday School classes and started the Senior Ministry group (including the ‘NIFTY Lunch Bunch’) in the 1990’s. Serving on the pastor search team twice, he also started the FirsTeam, bringing in a trainer to help our people understand the importance of making people feel welcomed when they came. As an acronym, it stood for: F – First, I – Impression, R – Relationship, S – Service T – Team, as we only have one chance.”
Allow Bill to explain many of his wife’s activities as well, “Binny taught a Sunday School class almost since arriving at Gashland, the first few years with the youth, and 25 years in adult classes. She started new ‘Twenty Something’ classes at three different intervals, helped reorganize the Women’s Ministry, chaired five women’s retreats and started ‘Trunk Or Treat’. She headed the Wednesday night cooking team at one time and served two terms on the elder board, as well as also serving twice on the pastoral search committee.” Their service isn’t slowing down, as they prepare to visit and help out fellow church members.
When Bill met Binny, he met Young Life, and they have been involved with this ministry throughout their married life. YL is an international organization that’s purpose is to communicate the good news to the unchurched teenage population. It is now in 105 countries, after being founded by Jim Rayburn in 1941 in the Dallas area. Mr. and Mrs. Pearce lived at Clearwater Cove, the YL Camp on Tablerock Lake southwest of Branson, MO, for almost a year, 2015-2016, building the camp. Binny sums up, “I feel my biggest legacy is that I was blessed with the opportunity to serve as a YL leader for 30 years, and got to be a part of leading 1,000 high school kids to a commitment of their lives to Jesus.”
Intrepid travelers, the Pearces have been blessed to see much of the US, with standout places like Carmel by the Sea, many of the national Parks, D.C. during cherry blossom time, Lake Tahoe, Lake Powell, Niagara Falls and many other locations. “The most beautiful place we have visited is Banff National Park, even after we had spent a week touring all around Switzerland,” explained Binny. Her husband added, “Binny loved her teaching one summer in China and a teacher exchange she did in England. Most recently we enjoyed a river cruise down the Danube River.” Obviously this “cord of three strands” has stood the test of time as demonstrated by this beautiful couple!