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Monday, July 28, 2008

50th Year of Bond-Pierce Reunions

Two families in Kingsport's history.. linked by a single marriage in 1958.

When Virginia Bond (she was the only girl among 5 brothers) married Alfred Bond (he was one of 12 children) 50 years ago in Sullivan County, Tennessee, little did they know they were beginning the legacy of the Bond-Pierce families, and their descendants.


Relatives of two of Riverview's biggest families, are celebrating 50 years of heritage, as the Bond-Pierce families got together at the Higher Ground Life Center in Lynn Garden, to re-live the memories and the good times that have held them together for so long.

"It's important to have reunions," says Chynet Bond, the event organizer. "It promotes the heritage of the family line. You never know, somebody could be here today, then gone tomorrow. We've already had that, even this year."

"When our families get together, we have a ball, just like we did during the Riverview days," says Chynet. "Everybody looks forward to the reunions, and that goes double for me. Whenever the time gets close, I start getting excited, and whenever the families leave, I get sad."

"Every year, there is somebody new that finds out they are related somehow to the Bond-Pierce lineage," she says. "This year alone, we've had two new families who did some digging into their ancestry and discovered their connection. They've never been to the reunions, never knew we were having them and they are thrilled once they contact us or we contact them and verify who's related to whom, and who their mama or daddy's relatives are. Next thing you know, there's another family relative that we or they didn't know about."

This year, special tributes were made to the Jerome Pierce side of the family, the Jack Pierce side (especially the old home place at the foot of Bays Mountain in Horse Creek country--one speaker mentioned that at least 20 acres of the old home place is now part of the Bays Mountain Park system), and the Oscar Bond side. But the special tributes did not stop there.

On this 50th anniversary of the Bond Family and the Pierce Family celebration, accolades came from near and far. Resolutions were read from House Majority Leader Ron Ramsey, State Senator Nathan Vaughn, and Kingsport Mayor Dennis Phillips, who proclaimed Sunday, July 27, 2008 as "Bond-Pierce Family" day in Kingsport.

"This day is all about history," says Mayor Phillips. "It's almost unbelievable this day and time when families can hold on togetherness so close. I want to commend the Bond Family and the Pierce Family for holding them together for 50 years. The fact that families that may be different, can still all gather as one is wonderful. We all have a lot in common.. and we're together on many things more than we think. This kind of event is not just a social event, it's all about rekindling family friendships and relationships. When you get right down to it, that's what life is all about."

Mayor Phillips continued "this reunion celebration reminds me a lot of the family spirit that Riverview has had for so many, many years. When I was growing up, I ate supper whereever I happened to be at the time, and usually that was not at home. My home community in North Carolina was a lot like Riverview.. you didn't have to worry about your children.. if you wanted to go somewhere, you just walked there. If your kid wasn't home at 8 o'clock you didn't worry or panic because you knew the other folks in the neighborhood were looking out for them. This reunion gets back to the roots of the family, and that is the roots of the Riverview Community."

Chynet Bond echoed the mayor's sentiments.

"Whenever there is something wrong in the family," she says, "we all rally together to help that family member get through it. Whenever there is a problem, everybody has a problem. Everybody pulls together and see what needs to be done to help. Not just in our family, in Riverivew we did the same thing."

Marquis Lyons, the 50th Reunion Misstress of Ceremonies, related the origins of the family. "The first reunion," she reminded everybody, "was held 50 years ago in the backyard of 1018 East Sevier Avenue. The first attendants there were Virginia Bond, Oscar Bond, Patton Pierce, Regina, Rosalee and Chynet. Later, various friends and family joined in and the boys cook the meals. On the menu was homemade ice cream, apple cobbler, strawberry cream pie and apple pie. It was years before we had to charge 25 dollars to help in the food expenses. As the reunions got bigger, everybody was asked to bring a covered dish, and everybody notified their families to attend. Some of the reunion locations were the Elks Lodge, the Masonic Hall, Shiloh Baptist Church."

Elsewhere on the program, after Adrian Bond's invocation, a special welcome was given to the group by Syahna, Anauja and Tionne. Jack Pierce introduced a special presentation from Fred Hilton, Ray Willis and Mary Lee Watterson. Janice Bowditch hosted the Reunion's Fashion Show. Tony Bond and Sharon Riley gave tributes to the family. Sharon Dabney performed an inspiration Praise Dance, followed by the Family Memorial from Janice Bowditch. After remarks from Ruth Coley, Elder Carolyn Smith did the Benediction.

Congratulations and best wishes to all members of the Bond Family and the Pierce Family.. 50 years of reunions is a wonderful accomplishment, and a tribute to the spirit of togetherness!