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Lifetimes: Tim Pearce “set a vivid example of confidence and self-sufficiency”

In 2014, Dorothy Pearce’s husband, 67, Bob Pearce, died of Huntington’s disease. In 2017, the same inherited disease killed her 39-year-old daughter, Christina. Then, on November 17, 2021, Dorothy’s son, Tim Pearce, passed away at the age of 47.

Now she is alone.

“I’m the last one standing,” Dorothy said solemnly from the living room of her Kitchener home, surrounded by framed college degrees and success records from Tim, a mechanical engineer with a flair for artistic expression and talent. ‘a sense of adventure.

Huntington’s disease is a progressive brain disorder caused by a defective gene that affects physical, emotional and mental abilities.

Christina’s symptoms started in her teens with an extreme personality change. The teenager had gone from what her mother described as “lucky joy to bad mood” in high school, well beyond the usual hormonal changes of adolescence. “She wasn’t herself,” Dorothy said.

Christina’s condition worsened as she got older, and although she was able to earn an undergraduate degree in environmental studies from the University of Waterloo, the young woman would have a limited future, unable to continue. a job in his chosen field, unable to hold a job of any kind. Two years after graduating, Christina had to go to a long-term care facility, where she remained until her death in 2014. Her young adulthood that had been so full of promise was stifled even before. to have started.

Christina’s father, Bob, had been a Department of National Defense technologist, first working in defense electronics, before moving on to radar countermeasures. It was while based in Ottawa that Calgary-born Bob met Dorothy Gerber, a pretty and young secretary. Like Bob, she too was looking for a more interesting life than the one she had growing up on a farm in the Waterloo region. They met just days before she planned to return to Kitchener. He convinced her to stay and they married in 1972.

“Bob was wonderful,” Dorothy said. “He was kind and loving; everyone loved him.

The couple had two children, Tim and then Christina. Bob was unaware that he carried the defective gene although his mother suffered from similar undiagnosed symptoms.

“We had no idea when we were preparing our family,” Dorothy said.

Because Huntington is genetic, Tim and Christina had a 50% chance of inheriting the defective gene from their father.

Bob was finally diagnosed in 1993 at the age of 46. Illness soon forced him to retire. The family moved to Kitchener. They were all aware of what to expect, given that there is no cure or effective treatment for Huntington’s disease.

“We haven’t talked about it; it wasn’t something we dwelled on, ”said Dorothy. “Bob was a Boy Scout leader; we traveled with the children.

Life continued normally. Until it doesn’t.

Despite what happened to his sister, Tim knew it could be his future too, but he chose to live life to the fullest.

Tim was born September 27, 1974. He did well in school and received his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Waterloo in 1999. Prior to graduation, Tim had completed a co-op internship in England. With a degree and work experience under his belt, Tim was offered a job in Hyderabad, India, a place that fed his need to explore and travel. During his stay in England, he took advantage of days off to travel through Europe.

Although Tim enjoyed his work in India, he must have felt that this field was not exactly what he wanted to do, and so he returned to Canada, entering the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax. Never one to pass up an opportunity, Tim seized the chance to work in Osaka, Japan before graduating. Returning to Canada in 2006, he moved to Ryerson University and graduated in Fine Arts in 2009. A year later, he was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease.

Soon it was necessary to return to the Kitchener bungalow with Dorothy, who had just retired from the Waterloo region.

Tim was still well enough in 2012 to accompany his mother on a rail tour across Britain, with Tim acting as a tour guide, showing her all the sites he had visited as a co-op student.

In a tribute, Ottawa school friend Stephen Younge described Tim as being adventurous and independent, always leading the way as the two boys explored their city.

“He set a vivid example of confidence and self-reliance,” recalls Stephen. “He was an old soul filled with kindness and generosity. I never saw him harbor bad feelings or bad intentions towards anyone.

As Tim’s illness progressed, he had to agree to live in a long-term care facility. For several months into 2020, with COVID-19 restrictions in place, Dorothy’s heart was breaking as she was prevented from seeing her son, holding his hand, and sharing her love for her last remaining child.

Tim passed away on November 27.,. 2021.


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