Members of the Pearce Family Visit Widener Law
Web Editor - Published: April 8, 2009
On Wednesday, April 1st, Widener Law welcomed Mrs. Arlene Pearce, mother of Hugh B. Pearce, and Dr. Robert Pearce, brother of Hugh B. Pearce to the Delaware campus for a scholarship reception and the final round of the 20th Annual Hugh B. Pearce Trial Advocacy Competition. Several members of the Widener Law class of 1990 who were classmates of Hugh also attended the event, including Widener Law National Advisory Council member Leif Sigmond Jr.


Widener Law Dean Linda L. Ammons welcomed Hugh’s mother, brother, and classmates and presented Arlene and Robert with gifts of appreciation. Robert showed a brief but powerful PowerPoint presentation he had put together in remembrance of his older brother. The reception offered the gathered alumni an opportunity to catch up with some of their former Professors, and marked the creation of a scholarship in honor of Hugh B. Pearce. The scholarship will benefit a rising second year student who has demonstrated academic achievement and a commitment to community or public service, as exemplified by Hugh's life.

Hugh Bryan Pearce enrolled at Widener Law in August of 1987 and maintained a full course schedule while serving as a helicopter pilot with the Delaware National Guard. On June 17th, 1989 while performing maneuvers with the National Guard, Chief Warrant Officer Hugh B. Pearce and five others lost their lives when the UH-1 Iroquois they were flying crashed in dense fog shortly after midnight near Yarmouth, Massachusetts.

In the wake of Hugh’s death, Professor Thomas Reed and John Wherry, Esq., at the time an adjunct faculty member directing the Intensive Trial Advocacy Program, created a competition between the two best advocates in ITAP and the two best advocates from Professor Reed’s Advocacy concentration course. They named the competition in honor of Hugh, who Professor Reed called “an especially gifted student with a flair for advocacy.” The competition later evolved into a trial advocacy competition pitting a team of advocates selected from the Delaware campus by the Moe Levine Trial Advocacy Honor Society against a team from the Harrisburg campus selected by the Trial Advocacy Honor Society there.