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Earl Eugene "Gene" Pearson Jr.

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Earl Eugene "Gene" Pearson Jr. Obituary
Earl Eugene "Gene" Pearson, Jr.

Memphis, TN

Earl Eugene "Gene" Pearson, Jr., encouraged, influenced, argued about, and taught good planning practices with great passion as a city and regional planning educator and practitioner for 50 years. He leaves a legacy of critical thinkers in the hundreds of students he taught who are now working in communities all over the world. Gene produced numerous studies, wrote insightful editorials, provided expert opinions on planning issues and served on a variety of boards. His impact on cities and counties throughout the Mid-South region is immeasurable.

Gene received degrees from the University of Mississippi in Public Administration and Urban and Regional Planning. He was an Ole Miss sports fan but his heart was always with the Memphis Tigers.

He began his career as a planner with the Memphis and Shelby County Planning Commission 1968. Gene worked in the Regional Economic Development Center in 1971 at the University of Memphis, eventually taking on the role of Director. He was the original co-author in 1974 of the accredited curriculum leading to the Master of City and Regional Planning degree at the University of Memphis and he served as Director of the Graduate Program in City and Regional Planning for 25 years.

Gene's work had an indelible impact on the Memphis region that went far beyond the classroom.

His report, "Streetcar Trolleys and the Revitalization of Urban Centers" led to the creation of the historic trolley system in downtown Memphis. He served as Chairman of the 21-member Shelby Farms Advisory Committee that provided a framework recommendation for the management and conservation of Shelby Farms in 2005.

Founding Director of the Mid-South Planning and Zoning Institute, Gene coordinated an annual forum for civic leaders, professionals, and elected officials to focus solutions to a variety of urban and regional planning issues. He was a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners and served as TN Chapter President of the American Planning Association and Vice Chair of the national Chapter Presidents Council of APA.

After retiring from the University of Memphis, Gene formed MAP Studio, LLC, a planning consulting firm with his wife Louise. MAP Studio provides public policy counsel to both public and private organizations across the nation.

For recreation and yet another way to challenge his mind with complex issues and strategies, Gene took up croquet in the mid-1980s. His love for the game led he and Louise to purchase a home at Pinehurst in North Carolina to play on the venerable croquet courts there.

Gene died on May 23, 2017 after a long illness. He was predeceased by his parents, Earl Eugene "Bud" Pearson, Sr. and Martha Polk Pearson of Batesville, MS. He leaves his wife of 27 years, Louise Mercuro, his sister, Signe Adams (Jim), nephews, Gray (Shelley), Oscar (Lale), Andrew (Emily) and Albert (Marissa), two great-nephews and two great-nieces.

A celebration of life is being planned for family and friends in the coming weeks. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the University of Memphis Graduate Planning Program Foundation. To make a donation, visit or call 901-678-2162.
Published in The Commercial Appeal on May 28, 2017
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