Nadine Pearce, CFCA co-founder, dies at 87
January 31, 2012
Nadine Pearce, CFCA co-founder, died Jan. 30, 2012. This photo
from the CFCA archives shows her with her sponsored child,
Ana Raquel, and Ana Raquel's mother in Guatemala.
Catherine "Nadine" Pearce, co-founder and sister of President and Co-founder Bob Hentzen, died Monday, Jan. 30. She was 87.
"Nadine's radiant smile, gentle encouragement and acceptance of each one of us just as we are was at the heart of the gift she was for CFCA," said Paco Wertin, chief executive officer.
Nadine died exactly two months after her brother and CFCA Co-founder Bernard "Bud" Hentzen, who passed away Nov. 30, 2011. (Read more about Bud Hentzen.)
Her many roles included advocate for sponsorship, volunteer and CFCA board member.
As the eldest founder, Nadine played a great advocacy role, Bob Hentzen said.
"In any setting, including her room at the hospital, she would not ask, 'Would you like to sponsor a child?' She would ask, 'How many children would you like to sponsor?'" Bob said.
She arranged for CFCA weekend presentations through her parish, St. Thomas More of Kansas City, Mo., and helped sign up about 40 sponsors every year.
Nadine was a weekly volunteer at the CFCA offices in Kansas City, Kan., where she helped route about 1.4 million letters from sponsored children to their U.S. sponsors annually.
Nadine Pearce in 1977.
Born the fourth of 14 children in Greenbush, Kan., on Dec. 23, 1924, Nadine's childhood was spent with the love and support of caring, faith-filled parents.
In a 2002 interview, Nadine said she and her siblings were influenced by the religious values of her parents and other relatives. Six of her aunts were nuns.
"Even though we had a big family, my mother was always doing something for people who needed help more than we did," Nadine said.
This caring environment cultivated a nurturing character in Nadine.
"For as far back as I can remember, my sister Nadine has been watching over me and taking care of me," Bob said. "Over the rocks and fields of our little farm at Kenny Heights, Kan., she taught me to walk and I haven't stopped since."
The family prayed the rosary daily, a devotion Nadine continued through her life. She prayed the rosary every day of Walk2gether, the 8,000-mile CFCA solidarity walk from Guatemala to Chile. Bob led the walk to show love and support to sponsored members and their families.
Nadine attended Redemptorist School and graduated from Loretto Academy, both in Kansas City, Mo.
Meet the founders and listen to them describe the early years of CFCA
in their own words.
She met her husband, the late Horace "Hoppy" Pearce, at a community dance at the Plamore in Kansas City and the two married July 20, 1946. They began their married life in Kansas City, Mo., and raised eight children. She had 44 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
When she heard her siblings Bob, Bernard "Bud" and Jim, along with a friend, Jerry Tolle, had an idea to start a nonprofit foundation to help children and families in poverty by connecting them with caring people in the U.S., she immediately offered her support.
"They had this bright idea," she said. "They didn't know it was a bright idea at the time, that maybe, just maybe, they could ask people to send money to them to help a child in a Third World country."
The idea became a reality and in November 1981, CFCA was incorporated.
In the early years, her home was often the gathering place for CFCA meetings and a storage area for files and supplies. She always welcomed visitors, including overseas project staff members and preachers, with a warm smile and a warm meal.
Nadine was always available to assist with weekend parish presentations or administrative projects. She carried brochures and handed them out to people she met.
From left are CFCA co-founders Bob Hentzen, Nadine Pearce
and Bud Hentzen in a photo from the CFCA archives.
She said she and the other Hentzen co-founders — Bob, Bud and Jim — were close as siblings. Their closeness encouraged mutual support for the idea of CFCA and laid the foundation for its success.
"I think it kind of proved that if you work together, the goal you have set can be completed," Nadine said.
She was most proud of how CFCA grew from an unknown organization to be one of the largest 200 U.S. charities listed by Forbes Magazine.
Scott Wasserman, chief governing officer for the CFCA board, expressed deep admiration and appreciation for Nadine's contribution to the success of CFCA.
"She was the face of tough maternal care for CFCA," Wasserman said. "CFCA has tremendous respect for mothers, for their nurturing and for their toughness. Like a mother, Nadine kept us in line. Anytime we became too self-absorbed or abstract, she brought us down to earth and reminded us of our core values."
Her unconditional love and steadfast support will be missed by all in the CFCA community around the world.
A Funeral Mass celebrating her life will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 3, at St. Thomas More Catholic Church, 11822 Holmes Road, Kansas City, Mo. Burial will follow at Mount Olivet Cemetery.
Friends and family may visit from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2, at the church. A rosary will be prayed at 4 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions to CFCA.
See Nadine's obituary in the Kansas City Star.