Agnes Ann Pieper


Agnes Ann Pieper died on July 9, 2020 at the age of 95 in Durham, NC. She was born in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.  After the death of her father, Agnes’s mother moved to Miami, Fla. where Agnes lived from 9 years of age until she was married. Here, she first exhibited her love of adventure; buying a small dragonfly sailboat and sailing around Biscayne Bay for hours.  During this time, she moved to Boston and studied at Boston University.  But, the war, the standards of the times on the roles of women, and the depression stood in the way of her dream of going to medical school. After WWII, she married William Pieper, and moved with him as he was promoted through the ranks of Goodyear, moving at least 10 times in 13 years. They ended in their adopted town, Spruce Pine, NC where she became a dervish of activity  much of it based on the Quaker concept of trying to do good works.  

This was exhibited in the many things she did for the community and the sacrifices she made for her family.  She was a Water Safety Instructor and taught swimming to children and adults.  She was a leader of a girl scout troop.  She was active in and  volunteered at the Spruce Pine Methodist Church by maintaining the landscaping, often single-handedly, and singing in the choir.  She was the Health Start coordinator for the Head Start program in Mitchel County.  She also volunteered at a charity based second hand store, Shepard’s Staff, and served on its board.

In retirement, she and Bill Pieper moved to Palm Bay, and had what she thinks of her happiest days, fishing from the beach, gardening, and playing sports (tennis, swimming, biking).  They would spend their summers near son Kenny’s house and glass blowing studio in Celo NC.   In 2009, she and Bill moved to Durham NC so that Bill could be closer to a VA hospital and to their children, Carl and Karen.  She spent her final decade in the Croasdaile Retirement Community, where she threw herself into all the activities they had to offer.  Through her entire life, she and her sister, Ingrid, another free spirit, were constantly staying and traveling with one another, joining the 2 families. 

Agnes Pieper always showed a love for learning and doing new things.  She obtained a bachelor’s degree while in her 50’s.  She was an avid participant at Life Long Learning.  She tried to instill that love of activity and learning in her children. If idle, they were ‘encouraged’ to read or go exploring.  She drove each of her children to different cities each week so they could have private music lessons for the instrument of their choice.  For Kenny, she was a constant facilitator and supporter of his development as a crafts person at Penland School of crafts.   When her husband died, she became a constant companion with her children to the symphony, ballet, chamber music, broadway plays at Durham Performing Arts, outdoor concerts, and folk music – especially if her 2 favorite bands, the Kruger Brothers, or the Red Clay Ramblers were playing.   

She was happiest outdoors. Visitors were treated to (some say, subjected to) long walks in the woods or mountain tops. Vacations were always to a beach or national park.  She and Bill took several trips in retirement, traveling in a camper from Spruce Pine to the end of the road in Alaska, from there to Guatemala, and back to Spruce Pine.   In her 70’s she rode a bicycle for over 300 miles from Munich to Vienna with her son, and took another long bike trip in Canada with her daughter.

On summer evenings, there was always activity on the lake, while she orchestrated wonderful meals, highlighted by vegetables and fruits from the garden she tended and food that she cooked.

Mrs. Pieper is survived by her three children, Carl Pieper, Kenneth Pieper and Karen Pieper, her grandchild Ellen Pieper and her niece, Barbara Cornett.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you contribute to the charity of your choice in her memory.