Hugh Pierson

2 entries
  • "My dearest uncle, wise and full of humor, your French..."
    - Veronique Barbaud
  • "It was an honor to have met Mr. Pierson at his lovely home..."
    - Shannon Llewellyn
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Pierson, Hugh Ottho

Hugh Ottho Pierson, age 95, passed away on Sunday, August 27, 2017 at his home in Sandia Park. His was a life well-lived, filled with intellectual curiosity, exploration, and a love of music, good wine, and conversation.

He was born December 21, 1921 in Paris, France and grew up nearby in Gisors. Hugh earned a degree in chemistry and was entering the French Naval Academy when Germany invaded France. During Nazi occupation of France, Hugh and a friend fled to the south of France, across the Pyrenees Mountains and into Spain. After a couple of months in a Spanish military prison, the two were released and proceeded to England. Hugh joined the Free French Naval Forces, serving on the French Navy's Motor Patrol Boat 98, the equivalent of an American PT Boat. His military career came to an end after WWII, achieving the rank of First Lieutenant and Captain of MTB 98, while receiving the Croix de Guerre avec Etoile Bronze. After the war, Hugh took a job in French Cameroon (now Republic of Cameroon) where he met Lois Mae Guest, an American teaching school in the country. They married and moved to the United States.

The new couple started a family, which over 10 years grew to include five children â€" Hugh O. Jr., Lois Karen, George Douglas, Patricia Rey, and Kenneth Robert. Each of the children was born in a different state, but the family established roots in the East Mountains in 1960. Lois and Hugh grieved the death of Hugh Jr. in 1968 and Patti in 1991. Hugh and Lois helped Patti's husband, Curtis Johnson, raise their two children, Patrick and Hannah, as Curtis rebuilt his life in the East Mountains. Hugh enjoyed spending time with all his family including: Doug's wife, Beth Leonard, and their daughter, Emma; Kenny's wife, Julie Ludwick, and their son, Alexander; and Lois Karen's husband, Nick Mullins. Hugh considered Amy Robinson, and Curtis and Amy's daughter, Claire, as family. Hugh and Lois divorced in the early 1970s, and later in that decade Hugh married Dorothy Johnson. His new family included Dorothy's children from a previous marriage, Steve, Kathy and Eric. Hugh worked as a chemical engineer at Sandia National Laboratories where he remained for more than 20 years. During the later years at Sandia, Hugh took a leave of absence and worked as a Fulbright Scholar in Lima, Peru, researching energy solutions. After retiring from Sandia Labs, he worked with the government of Ecuador, siting solar energy facilities, and later, as a private consultant researching high-temperature chemical application.

Three of Hugh's loves were art, outdoorsmanship, and furthering his knowledge of science, nature, and culture. Hugh was a painter and sculptor, and his works reflected his interests in music, history, nature, and exploration. He was an avid hiker and mountain climber, hiking all over the world well into his 80s and scaling peaks such as Cotopaxi and Chimborazo in Ecuador, Mt Etna in Sicily, among many others. Although in his later years he was no longer able to physically explore his world, Hugh studied, read, and wrote until his last days. He will be sorely missed by his children and grandchildren, his extended family here and in France, and friends around the world.

Friends and family are welcome to attend his Celebration of Life on October 7th, 2017. For information, call Curtis Johnson at (505) 263-1410 or visit:

Published in Albuquerque Journal on Sept. 17, 2017
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