Columbus Dispatch  (May 8, 1984):  p. 1 A.
“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 years, Estelle.  

“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 Dispatch