IRVING R. PEARL
Biography found in "The History of Berrien County" 1906, pages 776-778, describing Irving Randall Pearl-- b. 1866, son of Warren H. Pearl and Minerva Randall Pearl.
IRVING R. PEARL, deceased, who was spoken of as "one of the bravest men that ever lived in Berrien county," was moreover one of the best liked. It would be difficult to find a man personally more popular than was Irving R. Pearl. He represented one of the oldest and most prominent families of the county, a family that has always stood for good citizenship. For progress, improvement and as champions of matters of civic pride, and at all times Irving R. Pearl was true to the traditions and principles of his fathers and represented in his life those commendable qualities which in every land and clime command honor and respect. He was not yet forty years of age at the time of his death, which occurred October 29, 1905, while the date of his birth was May 20, 1866. He first opened his eyes to the light of day on the old Pearl homestead in Benton township and was a son of Warren H. Pearl, an honored pioneer settler of the county. He is survived by two sisters, Mrs. Fanny Van Namee and Mrs. Nancy Ely, and a brother, James W. His boyhood days were spent in the usual manner of farm lads and the public schools afforded him his educational privileges. In early manhood he engagedin farming for about ten years and then became a general contractor, largely giving his attention to sewer building in Benton Harbor, St. Joseph, Fremont and South Haven. In all of his work he was most faithful, fully living up to the terms of a contract and he therefore enjoyed an excellent patronage.
On the 15th of March, 1888, Mr. Pearl was united in marriage to Miss Netttie Kennedy, a daughter of Mrs. Ann Kennedy, of Benton Harbor, where she [Ann] has lived for twenty-five years, there rearing her six children. She still resides in that city at the age of seventy-two years and is a consistent and devoted member of the Christian Church. Her daughter, Nettie, was a high school student and also studied in Dr. Edgecomb’s school. She engaged in teaching for two years prior to her marriage. By this union [Nettie and Irving] there were born four children: Eva M., who in her seventeenth year is a high school student; Warren H., fifteen years of age; Beatrice Aileen, who died at the age of three months; and Phineas G., five years of age. The two sons, Warren H. and Phineas G. Pearl, are the only male descendants of Warren H. Pearl, who had six children.
At the time of his death Mr. Pearl was serving as under sheriff in Benton county and he made a splendid record as an officer. When Fred B. Collins was elected sheriff of the county in 1900, Mr. Pearl was chosen as deputy and at once became one of the best men on the sheriff’s staff and some of the hardest assignments were given him. He knew not the meaning of the word fear and yet he never courted danger to the extent of foolhardiness. In the performance of duty, however, there was no thought of shielding himself and he discharged the task assigned him without fear or favor. One of the notable pieces of work which he did in connection with his office was that of locating a house full of stolen plunder well remembered by Benton Harbor’s citizens. At the time that Mr. Collins was again a candidate for office Mr. Pearl became manager of the sheriff’s election bureau and the thorough manner in which he conducted the campaign marked him as one of the ablest political managers in this part of the state. He was again manager of the Tennant campaign in the fall of 1904. While acting as deputy sheriff he also continued his work as contractor and much of the public work of Benton Harbor has been done under contracts which were awarded to Mr. Pearl. A local paper said in this connection: "Every official about the city hall, every member of the council, every person who had anything to do with him as a contractor, all say that when Irv Pearl, as he was affectionately known, secured a contract that bond was not necessary. His word was always as good as a bond and it was always his supreme effort to do the work entrusted to him in a most thorough and acceptable manner."
Mr. Pearl voted with the Democratic party, and while firm in his beliefs he was never bitterly aggressive. In matters of citizenship he ever took a foremost place among those who labored for the genearal good. He was a valued representative off various fraternal organizations and attained high rank in Masonry, taking the thirty-second degree in Dewett Clinton Consistory, S. R. R. S. He also became a Knight Templar and was a member of Saladin Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Grand Rapids. He belonged to the Odd Fellows lodge, of which he was a past noble grand, and he was also connected with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Knights of Pythias, the Modern Woodmen of America, and the Fraternal Order of Eagles. In social gatherings he was always most cordially welcomed because of a genial, kindly nature. He always attended the annual Pearl dinner. The Pearl family is one of the oldest and largest in the county and every New Year’s day its members hold an annual reunion and dinner at the home of Major Pearl [Lewis W. Pearl, born 1815], now over ninety years of age. On these occasions Irving Pearl was always present and his geniality, good humor and wit added much to the pleasure of that occasion.
Death came to Mr. Pearl after an illness of about three months and during one half of that time it was known that the end was near. Mr. Pearl himself recognized the fact and callign his wife and children about him he told them there was no hope for him and endeavored to cheer them with words of counsel and encouragement for the days when he would not be here. The funeral services were held on the 1st day of November under the auspices of the Masonic lodge and the remains lay in state in the Masonic Temple on the morning of the day on which the interment was made in Pearl cemetery-- a burying ground which was platted many years ago by the grandfather of Irving R. Pearl [Phineas]. At a meeting of the Knights Templar, Walter Banyon, paying tribute to the worth and memory of Irving Randall Pearl, said: "While we have been bending our ear listening to the music of applause it seemed as if there was a chord we missed in the music: that same one’s voice was away. The Book of Books says, ‘It is better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting: sorrow is better than laughter, for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.’ And so having in mind these words, we would be recreant in our duty as a Knight Templar if we did not here pause to drop a tear with little ‘Phineas’ and ‘Uncle Jim’ over the memory of our departed brother, Irving R. Pearl. O, brothers, what an heroic fight he made. The half can never be told. In the full splendor of a vigorous manhood, when his hopes were the highest and his heart full of the joy of service and loving kindness for all mankind, he was summoned by the pallid messenger with the inverted torch to cross into the undiscovered country. And he did so fearlessly. Overcome by the insidious attacks of an irresistible foeman, he went down waving hope and encouragement to his loved ones, ‘retreating with all the aspects of a victor.’ It is easy to die in some heroic cause while the world looks on and applauds; but it is heroically pathetic for a strong man to go down into ‘the valley of the shadow of death,’ overcome by the fatal clutch of a poisonouos fever, when he would willingly have died fighting his country’s wars. But with more than a hero’s courage, with more than a martyr’s fortitude, he awaited the approach of the inevitable moment and went to the undiscovered country.
"And what shall we say to comfort ‘Uncle Jim,’ who sustained and soothed his brother with all the love of a Jonathan for a David and the sacrifices of a Damon for his friend Pythias? Shall we point him to the hope of a glorious immortality, and thus seemingly hand him the shadow for the substance? Did you ever have a brother who would go barefoot that you might be shod; who would cover you with his coat though he himself were in need of covering; who though famished would not eat until you had appeased your hunger; who would fight your fights, permit you to share in his joys, but would not wound or distress you by disclosing his sorrows? Such a brother was Jim to Irv, and such he is to you and I as friends and brother Masons. Sir Knights, I believe I am a better man and a better Mason for having witnessed the scene which separated on this ‘bank and shoal’ of time two of the bravest, squarest and heart kind brothers the world ever knit together with adversity." Mr. Pearl possessed a fund of good nature and humor which made him popular in all places and under all circumstances and added to this there was a depth of character and strong purpose which made him a man among men. Loyal in his citizenship and holding friendship inviolable, his best traits of character nevertheless were reserved for his home and fireside.
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