Willene Pierce, 71, of Springdale, Arkansas passed away suddenly on Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at the Baptist Hospital in Oklahoma City. Willene was born November 2, 1942 in Belle Plaine, Kansas, daughter of Julian and Wenonah Pierce.
She was preceded in death by her father, Julian Pierce; her step-father, Todd Meyer; and three nephews, Jamie Rochelle, Zachary Shawn and Sky Shawn.
Willene is survived by her mother, Wenonah Meyer; four sisters, LaVeta Sergeant and husband Bill, Karen Smith and husband Stacy, Deanna Tannehill, and Donna Reed and husband David; one brother, Julian Pierce; and many nieces, nephews and friends.
She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oklahoma Baptist University and a Master of Religious Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. In Bartlesville, OK, she taught 5th grade and served as a youth director at Virginia Baptist Church. From childhood until her death she served the Lord in many ways. She started playing piano in churches at age 12. In Little Rock, AR, she first served as a church youth director and then later began serving in the state Woman’s Missionary Union offices. After that, she was the Executive Director/Treasurer of the Woman’s Missionary Union in Maryland/Delaware. In that position she was also the Director of Camp Wo-Me-To. From there she became the Director of the Women’s Department of Baptist World Alliance (BWA).
When she left her BWA position she returned to Oklahoma to work with Native Americans whom she had loved from childhood. Willene had become a Christian as a child while visiting in a Native American church. She returned to work among them as a teenager and later took a one-year sabbatical to continue her work with them. She bought a camper to live in that year. In addition to working among the churches she also bought equipment to tune pianos, trained herself and tuned pianos in the Native American churches. So, it was not surprising that she returned to that work. She started a ministry called The Native American LINK, Inc. (Living in Neighborly Kindness). One of her major accomplishments in that ministry was to begin the Native Praise Choir. It represents over 20 tribes singing the languages of the Cherokee, Muscogee and Choctaw tribes. The choir has sung in many states as well as overseas. Willene retired from her position as Executive Director of LINK in 2013 but was still a Consultant on the Executive board.
In March of 2013 Willene Pierce was recognized at the annual session of the Oklahoma Indian Evangelism Conference for her service to the Native American Baptist work. The Native American LINK board members and the Native Praise Choir also honored Willene at Indian Falls Creek Baptist Assembly in 2013. The National WMU honored Willene by making a contribution to the Native American LINK Endowment in her honor. She was also honored on another occasion for 50 years of service among Native American women.
Willene went on many mission trips in both the United States and overseas and sometimes took Native American women on trips with her. Willene said she found “making missions contagious” her most desirable task because it involved both immediate and eternal results. She was a well-known beloved speaker and will be remembered by countless people.
Viewing will be available at the Backstrom-Pyeatte Funeral Home on Friday, March 21, 2014 from 5:00pm-8:00pm and before the service Saturday. .
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, March 22, 2014 at the Sonora Baptist Church, Sonora, Arkansas at 1:00pm. Pastor Danny Williams will officiate the service with burial to follow at the Brannon Mountain Cemetery. Memorials may be made in her name to the Native American LINK P.O. Box 470974 Tulsa, OK 74147. Please visit www.backstrom-pyeatte.com to sign an online guest book.