2016 News


Herlon Pierce

Recently Eddie Holloway penned this nice article about Trail Manager
Herlon Pierce that appeared in the Hattiesburg American.
(Posted without the knowledge of or approval of the Trail Manager).

Since I learned about W. Edwards Deming, the father of quality, I have read quite a lot on the subject. I also started looking for people, places and things that represent the high esteem of such rare productions, selections and choices. I believe that all leadership should be about producing and getting to quality in goods and services.

William Foster says, “Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention and sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution, and it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.”

This quote is paired with many readings about quality, and it helps define the many ingredients that create quality — such as vision, choices, steps of execution, attitude, expectation, hard work and production.

This article is long overdue about a friend I met in 1985 during my election to Hattiesburg City Council. Herlon Pierce epitomizes the very essence of the life works of W. Edwards Deming. Shortly after meeting Herlon, he impacted me with his comments to a series of my requests of him. He said, “Eddie, you are too hard to please. You are more demanding than Bobby Chain.” I counted his expression as heartwarming, a compliment and not a put-down. (Maybe one day I’ll remember to ask him what he really meant. I may have the wrong interpretation.)

I thought highly of his comments because I thought highly of Mr. Chain because I saw him as a community and business leader who was driven to achieve excellence, a motivator, a highly accomplished civic statesman of Hattiesburg, Mississippi and the nation.

During Herlon’s years as director of public works and city engineer of Hattiesburg, new standards were established like never before. The Arledge West Drainage Project, David Anthony Walking Trail, Kamper Park and Zoo, the majority of the parks and walking trails in Hattiesburg, as well as major drainage systems, thoroughfares and city landscapes. Within these examples of quality, you will see Herlon’s long-lasting fingerprints, expertise and quality leadership. Each conversation I have had with him, he has spoken of “doing it right, the best possible whereby it will last.” Quality work and outcomes were what he demanded. I think these qualities and attributes were rare then and even rarer today. I do not remember Herlon ever being off the clock.

The residents and visitors of our city and region can see some of his handiwork whether in the Corp of Engineers, Pat Harrison Waterway District projects and his current work on the Longleaf Trace. We all can agree this project has been an asset for Hattiesburg, Forrest County and Mississippi. Thousands of people have traveled to Hattiesburg to walk, job and ride on the Trace.

Many people who aspire to greatness comes from humble beginnings, like Herlon who is from Bassfield. He met and married Ms. Bettye in 1957, and they are proud parents of Scott, Kerry and Kim. Herlon was educated at Pearl River Community College and Mississippi State University.

Bettye Pierce is quoted as saying, “Herlon taught our kids from a young age to work hard and to take pride in their work. He has always set such an example with his hard work and pride he exhibited through the years with work.” What a lovely tribute from a loving wife of 57 years.

Herlon, thanks for sharing with us your works of love. We will be eternally grateful for the joys and pleasure that your quality works have brought to our lives. And, thanks to Ms. Bettye and your children for allowing you to share your time and talents with us and our visitors and friends. You have made a difference, my friend.

Eddie A. Holloway is the assistant vice president for student affairs/dean of students at the University of Southern Mississippi. Contact him at Eddie.holloway@usm.edu.

Also see Trail Manager serves 15 years.