William Rinehart Pearce

July 27, 2023


Pearce, William Rinehart

died peacefully July 19, just short of his 96th birthday. Born to Franklin Pearce and Beatrice Rinehart Rowe Pearce in Coral Gables, Florida on August 12, 1927, Bill was raised by his uncle and aunt, Herb and Bertha Hutchinson, in Faribault Minnesota after his mother died in 1934. His proudest high school memory was playing on the Faribault High School basketball team the year they played in the state tournament. He enlisted in the Navy at 17.

Bill attended the University of Minnesota, graduating from Law School in 1952. At the U he was a member of Sigma Chi fraternity where he made lifelong friends and met his future wife, Barbara Smith. They married in 1951 and promptly had three children, then a fourth. Years later it was discovered that Bill’s father and Barbara’s mother served in the same unit in France in WWI.

Bill went to work for Cargill in the law department in 1952. What followed was a long and satisfying career that went from law to public relations and public affairs, crafting external communications and negotiating agricultural and trade policy on both national and international levels.

In 1971 Bill left Cargill to become Deputy Special Trade Representative for trade negotiations in the executive offices of President Richard Nixon. As part of the administration he shaped international trade policy, heading U.S. trade negotiating teams in Geneva and managing the trade bill in the House of Representatives.

Bill once said, “I’m a public policy person. That’s what I do.” And as such he was an active participant in many organizations including the U.S. Feed Grains Council, the U.S. Japan Business Council, the Council on Foreign Affairs, the Tri-Lateral Commission, the Harvard Center for International Affairs. GATT, the Bretton Woods Committee, the Humphrey Institute, the President’s Commission on International Trade and Investment Policy, Interstudy, the Citizens League, MPR and more.

Bill returned to Cargill in 1974 and continued to shape Cargill’s engagement in foreign trade. He was elected to the board in 1988 and became vice chair in 1991. During this period he led efforts to restructure the board of directors and create an Employee Stock Option Plan. He became President of the Cargill Foundation after his retirement from the company in 1993.

Bill assumed the post of president of the IDS Mutual Funds Group in 1993 where he worked to increase the industry’s focus on providing education and training for independent trustees. He retired from the Funds Group in 1999.

In retirement Bill pursued the interests and activities that he had managed to squeeze in while he was working. He and Barbara enjoyed winters in Naples Florida and summers with children and grandchildren at their cabin in northern Wisconsin. He was a voracious reader, an avid golfer, and a determined skier. He relished his annual fishing trip to Alaska with his son Bill, his grandsons, and dear friends.

Bill was preceded in death by his wife Barbara, granddaughter Grace Reyelts and most of his peers. He is survived by his children:  Mary Reyelts, husband Paul; Laurie Pearce; William Owen Pearce, wife Peg; Betsy Pearce, husband Michael; grandchildren: Jennifer Fiore, William E Pearce, James Pearce and William Reyelts and a host of great grandchildren; and his dear friends in the Scotch Club.

Mass of Christian Burial at the Church of St. Bartholomew, 630 East Wayzata Boulevard, Wayzata on Friday August 4, 2023 at 11:00 am. In lieu of flowers donations could be made to the University of Minnesota Law School Scholarship Fund through the University of Minnesota Foundation.






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Mass of Christian Burial
August 4, 2023

11:00 AM
The Church of Saint Bartholomew
630 East Wayzata Blvd
Wayzata, MN 55391


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