Landscapes 14


July 3, 1943 ~ February 8, 2024 (age 80) 80 Years Old


Arbya Joe Pearson, 80, passed from this life into eternal salvation and glory on Thursday, February 8, 2024, at his home in Parkville, Missouri surrounded by his loving wife and daughters, Christine, and Constance. Arbya, or “Joe” as he was affectionately called, was born on July 3, 1943, in Haskell, Oklahoma to Erastus Pearson and Ruby Ethel Williams Pearson. As a small child Joe loved nature, often playing by himself, exploring away from his family’s homestead for hours at a time with his dog Spugen. He was fearless as he roamed the woods, skipping rocks, chasing rabbits, and often returning at dusk or after dark to his parents’ displeasure. Joe enjoyed sharing his baptismal story; standing on the banks of the river waiting to be baptized while the deacons and preachers troubled the waters with brooms to shoo away the water moccasins. 

In 1954 Joe moved with his siblings and mom to Long Beach, California where his world held new adventures, challenges, and opportunities. He quickly excelled physically and socially, becoming a standout in football, ROTC, and swimming.  For a time, he worked as a lifeguard and umbrella attendant in Belmont Shore. After graduation from high school and with the assistance of his older siblings, he attended classes and played football for Long Beach City College and the University of Wyoming at Larimee. After college, Joe embarked on a career with General Motors Corporation, interrupted for a few years when he worked for McDonnell Douglass, now Boeing. Joe’s thirty-three-year tenure with the company included positions at the Southgate, CA, Fremont, CA, Oklahoma City, OK, Defiance, OH and Fairfax, KS plants. During this time, he was recognized not only for his strong work ethic, but also as one of the top American Red Cross Blood Drive donors.

In 1986 Joe met Kelly and after a brief courtship that included a first date to church and a softball game in Boynton, OK, they were married by his uncle, the Rev. John Williams.  Uncle John officiated the service in his dining room during a blinding snowstorm with his dad Erastus and his Aunt Majorie as witnesses. Joe was a man with a true servant’s heart. He helped organize and participated in trail rides benefiting St. Jude’s Children’s Charities through the Eastside Round Up Club of Spencer, Oklahoma where he also taught horsemanship and life skills to youth. Joe enjoyed cowboying, attending rodeos and enjoyed training and caring for his own horses, especially Cocoa and Silky who had once belonged to his father. 

Salt of the earth, Joe found the blessings and joy in everyday miracles. His laugh was infectious, and neighbors and church members referred to him as “laughing man.” He practiced embodiment theology as he expressed Jesus in the way he spoke and the way he acted. He was not a perfect man, none of us are, but he was humble and everyday he stretched himself to deepen his relationship with God, understanding it would result in more authentic relationship with others. He believed deeply in the dignity of all people. After his retirement, Joe settled into the leisure life, learning golf and returning to his love of carpentry until he discovered his daughter Connie was being subjected to a school bus driver that regularly wore a confederate flag shirt and relegated her to the back of the bus.

Joe took matters in his own hands, returned to work as a part-time school bus driver and teamster, took over his daughter’s route and began teaching the children anti-racism, compassion, and tolerance through his daily actions. He quickly became the most requested driver for school extracurricular events and served the children of the Parkhill School District for fourteen years, until illness put him on the sidelines. 

While a member of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Oklahoma City, OK Joe was a member of the Men’s Chorus and co-coordinated the Mobile Meals program. During his membership at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Defiance, Ohio Joe dedicated his spare time to the Homeless Mission which was set up and operated each evening in the church gym. At Faith Lutheran Church in Kansas City Joe participated in community outreach including the Clothing Closet, the McGrew Grove Community Garden, and the Black Health Care Clinic. As a member of Sheffield Family Life Center, he served on the Nursing Home and Hospitality Ministries. His health declined in the past decade, and he was unable to be as active as he desired but he supported ministries of the churches he held dual memberships at the time of his passing; United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, Kansas City and Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago Illinois (virtual member.)

Arbya Joe is survived by his beloved wife Kelly, his fiercest advocate, who for almost four decades served as his soul mate, “Ride or Die,” and True North. Joe was preceded in death by his parents Erastus and Ruby, his sister Viola and brother-in-law Dan, his brothers Walter (Melodie), Melvin, Maurice (Helen), Clarence (Elenor), and Leonard Dale (Mary Alice). He is survived by his brothers Charles (Dana) Pearson, Willard Pearson, and Chester (Viola) Pearson, sisters-in-law Mary Esther Pearson, Thelma Pearson and Dollie Motley Pearson, and uncles and aunts Doc and Gloria Williams, Mrs. Marsha L. Williams, and Rev. Dr. Floyd Wayne and Rev. Dr. Beverly J. Williams. 

His legacy will be carried forth by his children: Arlinda Joe Pearson, Paramount, CA, Derek Pearson, Ft. Mill, SC, Arleen Pearson, Carson, CA, Carla Mitchell, Atlanta GA, Christine C. Wilson, Kansas City, MO, Costance Monet Pearson, Kansas City, MO and Jerome Christopher “Mangas” Pearson, son/grandson, Syracuse, NY. Additional grandchildren include Ladonya Shaper, Justin Armstrong, Ashley Brooker, Marquise  Anderson, Anthony Ingram, Devon Pearson, Cherelle Hillman, Ronnie (RJ) Hillman (preceded in death), Catherine Pearson, Tiana Pearson, Michael Pearson, Markel Pearson, Cameron Mitchell, Donovon Boochie, Valentina Gonzalez, and Santana Arbya Joe Gonzalez, as well as nine great-grandchildren. Sister-in-law and brother-in-law Kimberly and Kim Henderson, sister-in-law and brother-in-law Judy and Robert Easterwood, sister-in-law Jacqueline Hams and brother-in-law Henry L. Hams Jr. Joe was loved, adored, and cherished by a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, church members, neighbors, former co-workers, and friends. 

Homegoing Celebration

February 24, 2024,

First Baptist Church-South, Beggs, Oklahoma 74421

Reviewal 10 am to 11 am 

Funeral Service 11 am to 1230 pm

Repast Dinner and Fellowship 1230 pm to 200 pm

Burial 300 pm

Lee’s Cemetery, Boynton, Oklahoma


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