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Pierce Carson

Pierce Carson

Long-time Napa Valley journalist L. Pierce Carson died on May 20 of cancer.

Born on Sept. 17, 1940, in Trenton, N.J., to Helen and Lyle Carson, Pierce made his home in the Napa Valley from 1967 until his death. He came to Napa after serving with the Army in Vietnam, 1965-66, where he was with the communications office. There he met a visiting journalist Ross Game, who later offered him a reporting job at the Napa Register.

As a reporter at the Register for 50 years, Pierce first covered courts and county stories, including the formation of the historic Agricultural Preserve. Later, he became the Register’s resident expert on food, wine and the arts, chronicling the transformation of Napa from an unknown valley to a world-renowned wine destination.

Pierce wrote about the stars of stage, food and wine, but his heart was with the backstage workers who enabled the stars to shine — line cooks, servers, bussers, bar-backs, stagehands, and winery workers.

He was known for his generous spirit, whether he was writing reviews of high school actors or writing a check to help a student go to culinary school.

He loaned his writing talents to many community causes, especially the Napa Valley Academy Awards party held for 25 years to raise funds and awareness for AIDS and HIV prevention and treatment.

A devoted fan of the Napa Valley Symphony, he served on the board for several years, and made it a priority to review their performances.

After his death accolades came in from around the world, including from artists whom he’d supported early in their career

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Cabaret entertainer Sharon McNight, who has performed on Broadway, knew Pierce from high school in New Jersey, she wrote. “He was literally the first person who ever helped me with costuming,” she recalled. Later he wrote about her performances many times.

In Mexico he helped encourage and promote a band called Piel Canela, who got their start performing on buses in and around Puerto Vallerta. Pierce helped them get their first booking in a club, they said.

A world traveler, Pierce left a network of friends in Italy, Germany, Mexico, Peru, and the Czech Republic.

“We are very sad for Pierce’s death” read a letter from Associazione Sassoferratesi nel Mondo in Italy. “We have been great friends of Pierce since many years.”

Pierce is survived by his sister, Jill Carson and by his adopted family, Martin Durand, Chris Edwards, Sasha Paulsen, Sandy Smart, Roberta Quick, Pavol Mincak, Trevor Davies, Michael Rainey and Monty Sander.

Pierce asked that his remains be cremated and taken to Prague, which had become his second home.

A celebration of life for Pierce will be held on June 26. Due to the limited capacity of the hosting facility, an RSVP is required. For further information, email rememberingpiercecarson@gmail.com or call 707-880-6238 by June 20.

En lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Pierce’s memory to Symphony Napa Valley.

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