Pierce Carson: The guy who classed up the Register newsroom

I haven’t slept well for two straight nights. I’ve lain awake thinking of my veteran coworker Pierce Carson who died last weekend. When I write his farewell, how do I do right by him?


Our desks were side by side for 40 of his 50 years at the Register. That’s more years next to Pierce than I’ve had next to my parents, my children or even my spouses.

When I arrived at the paper in the ‘70s, there was Pierce, a young county government-courts reporter who wrote better than any of us, faster than any of us, and as if that weren’t enough, he had better news sources.

And the guy had personality. Reporters as a class aren’t particularly colorful. We spend our time interviewing people who are.

Pierce told ribald stories, dished dirt, spewed profanities and, more often than not, charmed the socks off you. A lifelong bachelor, he didn’t live a humdrum life of family, kids, mortgage. A night owl, he was out in the world, living large.

Pierce gained further distinction because of his byline, L. Pierce Carson. For years reporters guessed about the meaning of this cryptic L. At a loss for anything better, I always said it stood for “lima” as in “bean.”

More remarkably, Pierce went 50 years as a reporter — a guy who roamed the Napa Valley for a living — yet NEVER drove a car.

How was this even possible? Who would hire such a person?

Pierce’s workaround was brilliant: He got…

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