Pearl Louise Rodenburg Tiarks was born on Dec. 22, 1917, in Neola, Iowa, the daughter of Wilhelmine and John Rodenburg. She was baptized on Feb. 17, 1918, at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Honey Creek, Iowa, where she was later confirmed on Nov. 8, 1931. Her faith remained steadfast throughout her life.
Pearl married George Rondel Patterson, Jr., and the couple later welcomed daughter Sylvia. The couple later divorced.
In 1940, Pearl attended beauty school and went on to work as a manager at Kilpatrick’s Beauty Salon. In the advent of World War II, she left the salon to work at the Martin Bomber Plant with her best friend, Maxine Wolfe. As the two worked together, Pearl regaled Maxine with stories of her brother Earl, to whom Maxine was later married. Pearl and Maxine remained best friends throughout their lives and particularly loved playing Scrabble together.
When the war came to an end, Pearl opened a beauty shop, where she worked for many years. Fiercely independent and forever practical, she always insisted on cutting her own naturally curly hair. A petite lady with sparkling eyes, she loved beautiful things and was always dressed to the nines.
In 1955, she married Oscar Tiarks and became mother to his sons, Allan and Aaron. Along with Sylvia, the family spent many happy years together.
Following Oscar’s death in 1966, Pearl returned to work, this time at Loess Hills Area 13 as a librarian. Before retiring in 1998 at the age of 81, she read, recorded and computerized thousands of school books.
She moved to Billings in August of 2001 to spend time with her daughter, granddaughter and great-grandsons. She made many new friends while playing bridge with the ladies, and would often be seen in the stands at baseball games and tennis matches, cheering on her boys. “Nana” or “Grandma Pearl,” as she was fondly called by many, was loved for her sense of humor, no-nonsense advice and tender heart. In every way, she exemplified the meaning of her name, “something precious or choice; the finest example of everything.”
On Aug. 14, 2012, at the age of 94, Pearl returned to the arms of her Savior following a short illness. She will be missed and remembered by the many whose lives she touched.
She is preceded in death by her parents John and Wilhelmine Rodenburg; sister Fern Schmidt; and brothers Earl and Max Rodenburg. She is survived by her daughter Sylvia (Roger) McCalla of Billings; sons Allan (Elizabeth) Tiarks of Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Aaron (Frankie) Tiarks of Neola; grandchildren Mary Jane (Rick) Knisely of Billings and their sons John and Phillip, John (Jennifer) McCalla of Billings and their sons Jack, Dane and Luke, Sarah (McRobert) Meek of Fort Worth, Texas, and their sons Collin, Sean and Brady, Rodney (Janel) Tiarks of Wood River, Neb., and their daughters Kennedy, Sloane, Sydney and Rylee, Rick Tiarks of Neola, Libby (Aaron) George and their daughter Abby of Honey Creek, and Ryan (Lori) of Weston, Iowa, and their sons Shane and Will; sister-in-law Maxine Rodenburg; and many nieces and nephews.
The family extends special thanks to the staff at Highgate Senior Living for their loving care of Pearl.
A viewing will be held on Friday, Aug. 17, from 5 to 7 p.m., at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary. Services will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 18, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Billings.
She will be laid to rest near her childhood home in Iowa, with visitation from 10 to 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 21, at Hoy-Kilnoski Funeral Home, followed by interment in Ridgewood Cemetery in Council Bluffs.
Memorials may be made to Trinity Lutheran Church in Billings or St. John’s Lutheran Church in Honey Creek.