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In Memoriam: SSPC's Monica Pierce

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

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Monica Pierce, who was a part of the SSPC: The Society for Protective Coatings family for more than two decades, passed away suddenly last month at the age of 62.

Monica joined the SSPC staff in 1990, working for the organization as the receptionist under former Executive Director Bernie Appleman. She held many positions through the years and was a wealth of information, according to all who knew her.

“Although her title changed, the one constant was she was always in a position where she worked with SSPC members,” SSPC said in a statement on social media.

“Her outgoing nature and easy rapport with people was where she really shined. Whether it was working the registration desk at the SSPC annual conference or talking to training instructors on the phone, Monica was the go-to figure who had the answer or could find it quickly.”

When asked about a favorite memory of Monica, it was her role at the SSPC registration desk that sparked the fondest recollections.

“Each year at the conference Monica would work at the registration desk and it was no surprise that members loved her as we did,” said Terry Sowers, Senior Member Services Advisor at SSPC.

“Each year we would watch as Monica would increase her number of fans who waited in her line to ‘get their badges,’ but actually it was to get a chance to visit with Monica. It was quite the sight to see.”

“One thing that comes to mind, and it’s probably because our conference is in Orlando this year,” added Sara Badami, training manager at SSPC, “is the last time we were there in 2014 and Monica was my roommate.

“We stayed over an extra day to relax and I remember we got these frozen daquiris and were strolling around the resort when we came across an area with hammocks and we decided to try to lay in these things. Well, if you could only see us trying to get into these hammocks, holding a drink, it was hysterical!

“We had the best time that day and we talked about it for years."

But Monica wasn’t just the life of the party: She brought the party together in the first place.

“Monica was a people person,” Badami said. “I think anyone who had ever spoken to her, even if she was trying to get them to pay a bill, or if they were standing in line to register onsite for our conference, will remember her. She had such a big personality and made everyone that she came into contact with feel comfortable, like they had known her for years.”

“Monica collected people,” Sowers said. “After one or two conversations everyone felt as though they had a permanent attachment to her and she to them.”

And all of the people she brought together learned from her—whether or not she was the person they were supposed to be asking for help.

“She was the person who kept everything and could find anything that was lost, misplaced or forgotten,” Sowers added.

“For myself, and others, Monica was just our go-to person. If we were having trouble figuring something out and finally decided to call it a day and go home, Monica would stay at the office and figure it out or find it in a file somewhere. When you got to the office in the morning, the item would be found or the solution would be waiting for you on your desk.”

It’s her knowledge, presence and personality at this year’s Coatings+ conference—and all the conferences to come—that will be missed the most.

“She drew a fun crowd to those conferences,” said Marian Welsh, VP of Finance at Technology Publishing Company, publisher of PaintSquare Daily News, PaintSquare Press and JPCL.

“People were drawn to her. I have to imagine that the industry as a whole has suffered an extreme loss. This show’s going to be different without her.”

This year's SSPC Coatings+ conference, taking place now through Feb. 14 in Orlando, has been dedicated to Monica. At the registration booth, donations can be made in her name to Pittsburgh's August Wilson Center.


Editor's Note: Additions were made to this story at 8:45 a.m. Feb. 12.


Tagged categories: Good Technical Practice; North America; Obituaries; SSPC

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