February 24, 2020 -- It is with great sadness to share news regarding the passing of former Highland Park Mayor and current President of the North Shore Water Reclamation District, Daniel M. Pierce. His passing has left many throughout our community with a profound sense of loss as Mayor Pierce was a much admired and respected citizen.
Born in Chicago on March 31, 1928, his family moved to the North Shore and Dan graduated from New Trier High School. During the Korean War, Dan served in the United States Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Corp and attended the United States Air Force Command & Staff School. After earning degrees from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, he took a position with Altheimer, Gray, Naiburg, Strasburger & Lawton and stayed with the firm for the remainder of his legal career. He served in the State Legislature from 1965 – 1985. During that time he was Chairman of the House Environment Committee. He had previously shared that he was very proud to be involved in the passage of a special education bill for school age children, and also the Pollution Control Act in 1969, a year before the Federal Government took action.
Dan was elected as Mayor of Highland Park in 1987 and served for three terms (1987 – 1995; 1999 – 2003). As the City’s Mayor, the issues that were most important to him were parking, infrastructure, and preserving the natural environment and character of the community. The Clavey Road/Route 41 intersection was very dangerous. Dan led efforts for the Clavey Road clover leaf when he was in the legislature and then as Mayor was instrumental in seeing that project to its completion. Other accomplishments included his work on the Sisters Cities Foundation and his commitment to preserving the former American Legion building on Sheridan Road (now home to The Art Center of Highland Park).
Following his service as Mayor, Dan was elected in 2004 to the North Shore Water Reclamation District (formerly known as the North Shore Sanitary District) and served as President for over a decade. Respected for his wit and intelligence, Dan was known to say that in this capacity “I deal with the effluent of the affluent.” While some might slow down in their “sunset years,” Dan remained active on the District Board, as well as serving on the American Legion Board, the Highland Park Health Care Foundation Board, and the Rotary Club of Highland Park/Highwood.
Dan is survived by Rhoda, his wife of almost 39 years. Between the two of them they have five sons. He was a mentor, friend, and colleague to all who came to know him. He leaves behind a legacy of community and public service accomplishments and will be truly missed.
City flags will be flown at half-staff in memory of former Mayor Dan Pierce and will remain lowered until Tuesday morning. A public memorial service in celebration of Dan’s life will be held on Sunday, May 17 at 10 AM at Congregation Makom Solel Lakeside, located at 1301 Clavey Road in Highland Park. For those who wish to make a donation in memory of Dan, the family has suggested local charities The Highland Park Community Foundation or The Rotary Club of Highland Park/Highwood.