Dispatch (May 8, 1984): p.
“Columbus Artist Elijah Pierce Dies.”
By Kevin Kehres.
Elijah Pierce, the son of a slave who gained fame as one of the nation’s great primitive woodcarvers, died Monday night in St. Anthony Hospital. He was 92.
Pierce, who made Columbus his
adopted home, turned his love for wood and a personal religious conviction into
works of art that received worldwide acclaim.
He died at 9:42 p.m. in the
hospital’s emergency room Columbus
fire division medics had been called to his Margaret Ave. home by his wife of 32
“He hadn’t been feeling the
past couple of days,” she said. “Nothing
hurt, he just didn’t feel good.”
Mrs. Pierce called the medics
about 7 p.m. while they were
checking her husband, he suffered a massive heart attack, she said.
“He lived a long time,” said
Mrs. Pierce, who is 78. “I’d
like to live that long if I could be of service the way he was.”
In 192, Mr. Pierce was one of
only 15 artists in the United States to earn the National Heritage Fellowship,
acknowledging him as a master traditional artist.
He earned his living as a barber
until a hip injury forced his retirement in 1978 at the age of 86.
But he never quit carving.
“He was carving something.
I don’t know just what, until he got sick,”
Mrs. Pierce said. “He was
very active until just a few days ago.”
Born March 5, 1892, Mr. Pierce
began carving wood as a child in Mississippi.
His early work primarily revolved around religious themes, such as a
lacquered wood relief of Noah’s Ark, carved in 1929.
Mr. Pierce also was a sports fan,
having been an amateur baseball player, and he carved free-standing statues of
sports figures such as Henry Aaron, Jackie Robinson and Archie Griffin.
Funeral arrangements are being
handled by Wayne T. Lee Funeral Home, 1370 E. Main St.
Copyright 1984 The Columbus
REPRINTED, WITH PERMISSION, FROM THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH