"We are deeply saddened by the passing of John Pearce, longtime friend and employee of Justin Brands. He was an icon in the western industry, beginning his career almost 40 years ago," said Randy Watson, President and CEO of Justin Brands in a statement sent to NBCDFW. "John represented our company with a passion, with style and with a love for the brand that made him the best at what he did. He was admired and loved by so many in our city and in this industry, and he will be greatly missed."
"We've had hundreds of phone calls. John knew so many people. Everybody loved John," said Lisa Lankes, Vice-President of Communications, Licensing and Social Media for Justin Brands. "Within Fort Worth and the western industry, everybody knew John. He was just one of those people. He knew people from all walks of life."
Pearce, 60, was the Director of Product Development for Justin Brands which includes the Justin, Tony Lama, Nocona and Chippewa brands.
Lankes told NBCDFW Pearce gets credit for revolutionizing many things in the industry such as finding ways to make boots comfortable.
"For years and years, cowboy boots were not always seen as comfortable footwear. John did a lot of research, patented and brought a lot of the comfort packages in our boots such as the J-Flex in Justin boots and Cushion Comfort in Tony Lamas," Lankes explained.
Pearce was remembered, too, for his sense of style and "always looking for the new colors of the season," Lankes said.
And Pearce modeled that flashy style in numerous activities with the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.
"John was known for a style of boot he liked to wear that almost came up to his knee," Lankes fondly remembered.
"He almost always had pants tucked into his boots 'cuz he'd designed those really cool boots," recalled Shanna Weaver, publicity manager for the Stock Show.
Weaver said Pearce served on the Stock Show's executive committee, became a director since 2002 and was one of the founders of the Calf Scramble in which students earn scholarship money by catching a calf as it scrambles around the rodeo arena. Pearce was also vice-chair of special events for the Fort Worth Stock Show Syndicate, the largest single financial supporter of the stock show and rodeo.