By SARAH DOOLITTLE, Four Points News
Beloved son, brother and friend Pierce Broe died October 4 after a long battle with brain cancer. He is survived by his parents, Kevin and Janel Broe, his sister, Julianne, 16, and his brothers Carson, 14 and Forrest, 10, all of River Place.
Pierce was active to the end. Saturday, the family was to have left on their Make-a-Wish trip to the Bahamas where they could fish and snorkel to their hearts’ content.
Instead, Pierce was hospitalized on Friday and died on Saturday.
Pierce was a boy well-equipped for the challenges he faced in his fight against cancer. Not only was he brave, he was also unflaggingly positive. He did not complain, made friends wherever he went, and never lost his sense of wonder.
For Pierce, every day was an opportunity for adventure, for plans to be made and carried out. Before cancer, he could be found at his parents bedside at 6:30 most Saturday mornings, ready to chop down a tree, catch a fish or build a fire.
After cancer, while his body struggled against the limitations imposed by his illness, he was still eager to be out in the world, to learn and touch and be part of the action. He didn’t want to miss out on anything.
He went to football practice in his wheelchair, coaching and encouraging his teammates. He skied with his family in Colorado in March, using a specially adapted ski chair on black diamond slopes. And as an honorary member of the Vandegrift lacrosse team, he attended their big game against Anderson High, even telling the team they needed to “man up.” They won their game that day.
When others in his shoes might have needed inspiration, Pierce instead inspired others. His own neurologist, an accomplished brain surgeon, thanked Pierce for inspiring him. Neighborhood friends of Pierce’s dad became Pierce’s friends, and they loved just hanging out with him, fixing cars and talking shop.
Getting close to Pierce could have been seen as a risk, knowing his prognosis and the pain it would bring in the end. It was a risk everyone gladly took for the sheer pleasure of his company, his smile and sense of humor, his understanding of the world that went beyond his years.
Pierce loved risk. He went on playdates with a warning from his parents: keep an eye on this one. He loved to bend the rules to, to push the boundaries, to find the limits and then, to extend them.
On a hunting trip with his dad in March, he was given the chance to drive the big Gator, off-road vehicle that others had been tooling around on up and down the ranch’s paths. Pierce stepped on the gas and cranked the wheel hard. He and his dad bounced over the cactus and scrub, flying joyfully on the edge.
He and a friend built a fire pit from bricks, had stacked the firewood, and would have started the fire had they not been discovered.
When others thought, Pierce did. Dyslexia meant that reading was hard, school and homework a dreaded task for a boy in motion. But his mind was quick, always thinking beyond the obvious. He was a boy of few words and many passions.
He leaves behind a huge collection of knives, the fifteen in his room joined by the many confiscated by his mom over time. He had hunting knives, pocket knives, even homemade knives wrapped in purple electrical tape, small enough to tuck in a sock.
He loved to fish. In a moment of inspiration, someone suggested that Pierce’s pallbearers wear boutonnieres of fishing lures, and his best friend picked their favorites.
He never got to his wish to have a full wild boar taxidermied and displayed in front of the fireplace, but he did get a boar’s skull from the hunt in March. A neighbor, knowing Pierce’s love of hunting, left a stuffed deer’s head on the family’s porch. That buck’s head, antlers and all, rode front and center with Pierce in his Gator at an event last week.
The family expected a couple of more months with their child — were hopeful and grateful for every day — and now must entrust him to the hands of their heavenly father.
They will never know the man Pierce would have become but are full of love and gratitude for the boy who will live in their hearts forever.
A viewing will be held Thursday, October 9 at the Cook-Walden Chapel of the Hills Funeral Home. Those wishing to attend can visit the funeral home’s website for details. Pierce’s funeral will be Friday, October 10 at 10:30 or 11 am at St. Thomas More Catholic Church. Please refer to the Four Points News Facebook page later in the week for final details.