Obituary: Calvin Ray Pierson


June 25, 1929 – March 3, 2023

Born in Gorman, Texas, Ray Pierson spent much of his youth in Modesto before moving to San Clemente, where he met and married Dian Mattai in 1948. The couple moved to South Laguna shortly thereafter.

Ray was important in Laguna community life for over 70 years. His work in maintaining parks for Laguna Beach included planting the palm trees in Heisler Park. He was a firefighter for the South Laguna volunteer fire department for 19 years and served as captain. After working for Larry’s Concrete Products for many years, he opened “The Lock Shop” on Coast Highway. He and Dian ran that business for 40 years. Known for his work on antique locks, Ray saved many a resident from having to replace their original antique locks because of his stock of no longer manufactured blanks and ability to create key stock himself. An April 20, 1989, a Laguna News Post article by Diane Winocur describes his process as slow and painstaking. “Often having no more information than what is visible through the keyhole, Pierson uses deductive logic and trial and error to unravel a lock’s mystery.” 

Community-oriented, he was one of the earliest donors helping to fund the preservation of the South Laguna Community Garden Park.

Ray loved music, dancing and entertaining in his tiki hut he built himself and enjoyed taking trips with his motorhome, motorcycles and antique cars. He continued his locksmithing problem-solving into recreation with his interest in puzzles, mind games, card playing and game shows.

His wife of 65 years, Dian Mildred Mattai, predeceased him in 2012. Three children survive him: Jackie Rae Riffe, Gary Douglas Pierson and Debra Lynn Pierson. Grandchildren are Julie, Jill, Ocean, Shannon, Jordon, Colleen and Gavin; and great-grandchildren are Kaelyn, Sierra, Nicholas, Ethan, Caden, Fiona, Kyla, Waylon, Ella, Mia and Weston. Dear friends Teddy and Kim Vlasis are among the many neighbors who loved and appreciated him. “Papa Ray will be greatly missed.”

A memorial gathering will be held at noon on June 11 at Doheny State Beach Campground, Site 13.

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