Dick Bierly, 86, human resources executive, conservationist, captain, and personal coach
Richard Harris Bierly, 86, of Morehead City, Dick to all who knew him personally, died peacefully in his home in Morehead City, on March 20, 2019, after a brief illness. He was born on July 7, 1932 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania to Harris and Thelma Bierly. Shortly thereafter, the family moved to Endicott, New York and ultimately settled in nearby Endwell.
A memorial service will be held 11:00 AM Monday, March 25, 2019 at Brooks Funeral Home with Rev. John Grayson officiating. The family will receive friends at the home following the service.
Bierly attended Endicott public schools through high school, and transferred to St. Lawrence University after Champlain College merged with the university. He played varsity football for three years at St. Lawrence, and served as the president of his fraternity while holding various jobs and working as an announcer at hockey games.
After graduating from St. Lawrence in 1956, Bierly joined IBM in the Personnel Department and rose steadily through the ranks with increasing responsibilities over his 27-year IBM career, starting with a stints as a recruiter and college relations manager for corporate headquarters and finishing as Director of Personnel for the Americas/Far East division. During his early years at IBM, Bierly also served in the Army Reserves from 1958-1966.
Bierly began his lifelong love of North Carolina and the outer banks in 1965, when he moved to Raleigh as the first site personnel manager for IBM’s newly opened Research Triangle Park. Family and friends report that he was most proud of his work as Director of Equal Opportunity for corporate and Research Triangle Park, during which he established the company’s first equal employment opportunity policies and was a champion of increased diversity in management. He was personally involved in the creation of the CEO South African initiative led by Rev. Leon Sullivan resulting in the “Sullivan Principles,” to which hundreds of U.S. corporations subscribed.
In 1968, Bierly left the Triangle and returned to IBM’s northeast corporate headquarters and to raise his three children in New City, New York. Leaving IBM in 1983, he joined the Burroughs Corporation in Detroit, a year before the merger with Sperry that created UNISYS, resulting in his promotion to Senior Vice President of Human Resources. In 1988 he moved again to become the Vice President of Government Affairs for UNISYS, leading their Washington D.C. office. After retiring from UNISYS, Bierly served as the Washington-based Senior Vice President/General Manager for the Manchester Group, a human resources consulting and outplacement firm.
Dick Bierly’s life began when he retired to Morehead City, North Carolina in 1992, where he took up boating full time aboard his sports fisherman yacht, “Tonka Two,” and started a second career doing volunteer work for numerous Carteret County organizations. He was a founding board member and president of the Big Rock Blue Marlin tournament, he volunteered with the Outer Banks Wildlife Shelter and the North Carolina Maritime Museum, and served as board member or officer of such organizations as Carteret County Crossroads, Beaufort Historical Society, Duke Marine Lab/Nicholas School Board of Visitors, and the North Carolina Coastal Federation (NCCF).
The NCCF was his largest and most passionate project, a source of great pride, satisfaction and countless friendships. During his time on the Board and in officer positions, he helped found the president’s council, which he chaired, and the annual Pelican Awards that recognize environmental leaders in the state.
Nothing provided Dick Bierly with greater joy than hosting his children and grandchildren at the North Carolina shore, from the early years in Emerald Isle and later in Atlantic Beach, a tradition he maintained until last July. He was moved and proud to attend his grandson KJ’s graduation from Marine training boot camp last year at Parris Island, a story he will no doubt tell for eternity. As a former “personnel guy,” he was a consummate relationship builder with everyone he met, asking probing questions and taking genuine interest in the answers he received. He was an unofficial career and life coach to hundreds of people, never asking for anything in return and usually picking up the tab over lunch at one of his favorite spots.
Bierly was predeceased in 2005 by his wife of 28 years, Mary Burke Bierly. He is survived by the children from his first marriage, Kyle Bierly and wife Lisa Bierly of Wesley Chapel, Florida; Kent Bierly of Brick, New Jersey; Karen Bierly Kerr and husband Scot Kerr of Trumbull, Connecticut; and eight grandchildren — KJ, Colton, Joey, Dana, Jordan, David, Matthew, and Duncan — along with his siblings Tom Bierly of New Fairfield, Connecticut, Carolyn Dewitt and husband David of Los Cruces, NM, and Ann Elliott and husband Ed, of Seaford, DE . All wish him Godspeed and safe passage to his eternal home. May he rest in peace.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the North Carolina Coastal Federation, 3609 Highway 24, Newport, NC 28570, or to the North Carolina Maritime Museum, 315 Front Street, Beaufort, NC 28516 or to the Beaufort Historical Association, 150 Turner Street, Beaufort, NC 28516.