Pearl West, 96, of Beaufort, passed away Friday, Sept. 3, in her daughter’s arms, 27 days shy of her 97th birthday.
Friends and family visitation will be at Munden Funeral Home from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m., Friday, September 10. Pearl's memorial service will be at 11 a.m., Saturday, September 11, at Ann St. United Methodist Church in Beaufort. She will be laid to rest at North River UMC Cemetery.
All COVID protocols will be followed, requiring temps at entry, masks, spacing, and hand sanitizing.
Born Oct. 1, 1924, in Beaufort, Pearl Imogene Gooding West (humorously nicknamed "PIG" for her initials) grew up as a sharecropper's daughter in the Great Depression. She honed her amazing lyric-soprano singing abilities in the forests around the crops. At age 18, she married a 19 year old, Ray, who had entered the WWII Navy. In 1944 they had a child who lived with Pearl in the County Poor Home on Hwy101 in Beaufort while Ray was in Wilmington. After the war, Pearl and Ray rented a three-room house on Steep Point Rd with no electricity or running water until Ray drilled a well through the kitchen floor and installed a basin and iron hand pump above. Having been taught by her mother Margie how to play piano, Pearl found an old upright, taught her daughter to sing in North River Methodist Church at the age of three, and baked cakes and pies to sell at the Morehead Curb Market to pay for her daughter's piano lessons. In 1950, she and Ray had another child who also learned to sing and play piano. They needed a larger home. So, with Ray's job at Cherry Point Marine Base, they obtained a loan to purchase land on Pinners Point Rd. Pearl went to a Morehead business school at night and got a job with the county farm agent's office where she found house plans and help to build their first home.
Pearl and Ray were very active at their church, and after five years in their new home, Rev. Bob Polk persuaded them to enter the ministry. Their first four-year charge was at Straits and Harkers Island NC where they enabled the Harkers Island church to go "station," helping them to build a new parsonage and moving in to serve the church two more years.
They then were appointed to a church in Dobbersville, NC. Pearl had directed choirs at every church so far, and now she decided to get a music degree at Campbell College/University. She graduated and began teaching music at nearby schools. During that time, they had moved to Dunn NC where Pearl also directed a choir in a local Baptist church.
After five years of teaching in a system that devalued music, Pearl was offered a scholarship to Duke Divinity School where she earned her MDiv and became a minister. She was one of thirteen women ministers in the state and encountered both good and bad receptions. But she served her churches well and strengthened their memberships.
Meanwhile, Ray retired and started building their new home on Pinners Point Rd. Pearl also retired in 1987 and helped design and build their home, which they moved into in 1989, six months before Ray died on 12/25. After that sad event, Pearl finished the home interior. During the 1990s, she was asked to preach sometimes for Rev. A.D. Byrd at Ann St. UMC, and the Carteret Hospital chaplain asked her to assist him with rounds, which she greatly enjoyed.
She also helped to procure funds for building the former Atlantic House in Morehead for mentally handicapped people. To supplement her income, she began an antiques/flea market indoor mall on Hwy 70W called Trash and Treasures, which she managed for eleven years until health issues interfered; the store is still in operation.
Pearl suffered a massive left-side stroke in 2006, but with the help of her daughters, she regained much of her strength and dived into gardening. Her home is now surrounded by nine bricked-in gardens and more trees. In 2013, however, she lost her beloved younger daughter Meri to COPD/Emphysema. Her daughter Bobbi then decided to stay with her 24/7, and Pearl did well until affected by a second left-side stroke Jan. 2020, then a third one May 2021, and finally a fourth on Aug. 10, 2021, which left her bedridden.
During all of that loss, she never abandoned her wit and good humor, until she could talk no more. Pearl is survived by her loving daughter Roberta D. West of Atlanta, and grandson James Prentis Capps Ill with his wife Diane Flowers Capps, along with several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents Marjorie Taylor Gooding and Primrose Gooding, her husband Carlton Ray West, daughter Meri Janet West, sister Esther Gooding Stoy, and brothers Robert Gooding, Thomas Gooding, and George Gooding. As far as we know, Pearl was the oldest clergy member in the NCCUMC and the oldest current citizen born in Beaufort. In every respect, she proved to any doubter that PIGS CAN FLY.
Expressions of sympathy may be flowers or a charity gift of choice.
Family and friends are welcome to submit online condolences at www.mundenfuneralhome.net
Arrangements by Munden Funeral Home and Crematory Inc. in Morehead City.