Harold E. Pierce
|Dr. Harold E. Pierce Jr.|
Dr. Harold E. Pierce Jr., age 71
April 4, 1922|
Philadelphia, PA, United States
|Died||October 25, 2006
Philadelphia, PA, United States
University of Pennsylvania,
|Alma mater||Lincoln University, Howard University School of Medicine|
|Known for||Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology|
Harold E. Pierce Jr. Brigadier General (USAF, PANG, ret.) (April 4, 1922 - October 25, 2006) was an internationally renowned American dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon who practiced principally in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for over 48 years. He pioneered surgical techniques for the treatment of keloids, laminar dermal reticulotomy, hair transplants, cosmetic facial surgery, chemical facial peeling, and dermabrasion in people of color. He was called "The Father of Black Cosmetic Surgery."
Pierce was born on April 4, 1922 in Philadelphia to Mary Leora Bellinger Pierce and Harold Ernest Pierce, Sr. His mother was a classical pianist who played for Marian Anderson. He is the oldest of two sons. His brother, Honorable Lawrence W. Pierce, became a federal judge in New York. Their mother died when young Harold was 7 years old and his grandparents, Lillian A. Willets and Warren Wood Pierce of Bridgeton, New Jersey, raised him. While he was still young, Harold was estranged from his father, and as an adult, visited his Father in Harlem. His Father had retired as a Laboratory Assistant from New York State Department of Mental Hygiene.
After graduating from Bridgeton High School in New Jersey, Pierce attended Lincoln University in 1942 with a B.S. degree and pledged Alpha Phi Alpha. In 1946, he graduated from Howard University College of Medicine with an MD degree. Pierce studied under the famed Charles Drew while at Howard University. Pierce completed an internship at Harlem Hospital in New York City, a residency in dermatology at the Philadelphia General Hospital and Fellowship in dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Medicine.
On November 22, 1945, Harold married Constance Ella Mason, a mathematician and teacher in the Philadelphia school system. They were married for 44 years until her death in 1989. Pierce had three children, and four grandchildren. His eldest daughter became an attorney while the other two followed in his footsteps and became cosmetic surgeons and dermatologists. Dr. Pierce was the first of three generations to attend Howard University.
In 1951, as the Korean War peaked, Pierce accepted an assignment as the Chief of Dermatology at the 1600 USAF Hospital at Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts. In 1954, he became a General Medical Officer with the 111th Fighter Bomber. After many distinguished years, he resigned from the Air Force National Guard in 1976 and was promoted in 1987 on the Retired list to the rank of Brigadier General. He is the second African American to be given this ranking.
Pierce was active in the Civil Rights movement, and even active as a child in the 1930s through his dissemination of Black Newspapers pushing for an end to the terrorizing lynchings of African Americans and their supporters that plagued America throughout the first half of the 20th century. Dr. Pierce was a friend and fraternity brother of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and participated in the 1963 "March on Washington". After the Daughters of the American Revolution barred Marian Anderson from singing at Constitution Hall, Dr. Pierce would later join the Sons of the American Revolution to protest the segregation, and remind the organization that he was living proof that African-Americans also served in the American Revolution.
Pierce is the editor of the book Cosmetic Plastic Surgery in Nonwhite Patients, Grune & Stratton (New York, 1982). He taught for 17 years as an assistant professor of dermatology at Howard University.
Pierce died at the age of 84 in Philadelphia from complications from prostate cancer. He worked daily as a doctor until the age of 83. Over five hundred people attended his funeral.
- Sims, Gayle Ronan. "Harold E. Pierce Jr., 84, dermatologist, surgeon", The Philadelphia Inquirer, November 4, 2006. Accessed December 21, 2014. "He was born in the Art Museum area, and his mother died when he was 7. His father decided the best situation for his son was to be raised by his paternal grandparents in Bridgeton, N.J. He graduated from Bridgeton High School in 1939 and earned a bachelor's degree in science in 1943 from Lincoln University and a medical degree in 1946 from Howard University."