Jerry Darrell Pierce will reign as King of the 52nd Spring Festival Court presented by the St. Denis Art League. He has served for 35 years as vice-president for external affairs at Northwestern State University.
A native of Springhill, Pierce was recruited as a football trainer for NSU and lettered for four years. He was an N Club officer, sports editor of the university newspaper and wrote for the Shreveport Times and other weekly and daily papers while in college.
He received a journalism degree in 1961 and joined the staff of The Times-Picayune in New Orleans. He became executive sports editor of the newspaper at age 24.
Pierce returned to Northwestern in 1965 as sports information director. He later served as news bureau director, assistant to the president and on the journalism faculty before being named vice-president for external affairs.
In addition to writing and editing thousands of news releases and publications at NSU, he has written over 10,000 stories and articles of all kinds for the Natchitoches Times and other North Louisiana newspapers and statewide publications.
He has received numerous Louisiana Press Association awards for general interest columns, features, sports columns, editorials and news stories on deadline. He has also received awards from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association and College Sports Information Directors of America for news stories and sports publications.
Author of a book of columns published by the Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives, he also wrote the text for the 200-page coffee table book “Northwestern at 125” commemorating NSU’s 125th anniversary. He was co-editor of “Steel Magnolias Scrapbook” on the filming of the movie Steel Magnolias in Natchitoches and author of a chapter for a book on nationally renowned journalism educator Dr. John Merrill.
Pierce was responsible for bringing the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame to Natchitoches in 1972 and served as director and master of ceremonies for the program for nearly two decades. During that time, was named one of the 20 “Most Influential People in Sports in Louisiana” by The Times-Picayune.
He played major roles at Northwestern in establishing the Long Purple Line and N Club Hall of Fame and served as co-chair of the university’s Centennial activities in 1984 and 125th anniversary celebration in 2009. He was the university’s liaison with production companies for the filming of Steel Magnolias and Man in the Moon.
Pierce was involved in NSU gaining membership in the Southland Conference and later served as president of the conference. He was also as institutional representative to the Southland Conference and NCAA.
As NSU’s governmental affairs representative, Pierce has worked for years with legislators and other elected officials. He has represented NSU as after dinner speaker and master of ceremonies at hundreds of events across the state for decades and as host or guest on numerous radio and television shows.
His honors include membership in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame as recipient of the Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association in 2000; membership in the NSU N Club Hall of Fame as recipient of the Distinguished Service Award in 2018; recipient of the first Mac Russo Award for leadership in the LSWA and LSWA Life Membership Award in 1990.
Other professional recognition includes 50-year membership awards from the Louisiana Press Association and CASE, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education; secretary-treasurer of Louisiana Sports Writers Association; membership in Blue Key National Honor Society, Society of Professional Journalists and Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.
He has been extensively involved in civic activities in Natchitoches through the years and has received the Natchitoches Mayor’s Award for Community Service; American Legion’s Natchitoches Parish Man of the Year Award; Natchitoches Parish Chamber of Commerce President’s Award; City of Natchitoches Achievement Appreciation Award and the Lieutenant Governor’s Louisiana Ambassador Award.
He was a member of the Chamber of Commerce’s first Ambassadors’ Club; Finalist for Chamber of Commerce Natchitoches Parish Man of Year; Kiwanis Club member and officer; Charter Member of Mystic Krewe de St. Denis Mardi Gras group; Member of Agitators social organization; Dignitaries and Publicity Committee of Natchitoches Christmas Festival; Member of First Baptist Church, serving as coach and counselor for youth sports programs and on budget, publicity and publications committees.
As an avid tennis player for more than 50 years, Pierce was a member of teams that won more than a dozen state championships, four 10-state regional tournaments and a national championship in 1998.
Pierce has provided substantial financial support to Northwestern State. He was recognized last year for more than 20 consecutive years of contributions to the NSU Foundation. He and wife Regina have established endowed scholarships at the university in athletics and academics.
He is married to the former Regina Bruce. Together, they have four children, seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren.