From the Archives, October 31, 2021

Boxwell Greats: Floyd “Q-ball” Pearce

In doing our Boxwell Greats Repost Round-Up last week, it was pointed out to us that we have never done a Boxwell Great post on Floyd “Q-ball” Pearce. We have told a number of Q-ball stories over the years and this week we correct our oversight.

Born in 1900, Floyd Pearce was a native of Clarenden, Arkansas. Because of this, he was at exactly the right age for Scouting came to the United States. He joined the program in 1915. Our records are sketchy on these early years. We don’t believe he made Eagle or served during the Great War, but we know that he survived the Great Clarenden flood in 1927 and at least by 1933 was involved in Scouting as an adult leader with Troop 28. More importantly for our story, Q-ball had joined the staff of the East Arkansas Council summer camp, Cedar Valley by 1941. He also served on the staff at Kia Kima, though the years on that are murky.

While an electrician by trade, Q-ball was a master craftsman. He ran the Handicraft at Cedar Valley, working with metal and leather and impressing Scouts with his patience and humor. It was at Cedar Valley that Q-ball became friends with Council Executive Ward Akers. The two hit it off instantly and Q-ball was fond of regaling tales of Akers scouring the countryside for donations during the war years to make the Council and the camp work. When Akers moved to the then Nashville Area Council (soon to be re-christened the Middle Tennessee Council) in 1947, Q-ball joined his friend at Boxwell.

We have no record of Q-ball at the final year at the Narrows Boxwell, but he was on hand at the beginning of the Rock Island Boxwell. He worked the Handicraft and sometimes the Trading Post there. He knew Henry Fitts—the boy who died in a motorcycle accident and for whom the OA Lodge was originally named. He continued on and off throughout these years and moved to the new Boxwell at Old Hickory. When the OA Lodge was built in 1968, Q-ball moved in, playing his records—Elvis Presley and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Q-ball was an undeniable character. He often had a tape recorder on hand to record stories from people. He ran a side business at camp making belts for a small charge. He had a special trunk of his own hand worn tools that he had shipped from Arkansas every summer. When he came to camp, he usually came by bus and used a camp car to get around the Reservation. He was often driven home by younger staff members. He was a collector as well, building an assortment of patches and sayings he treasured. None of this held a candle though to the love of his life, Tillie. He was married for most of his adult life and he and Tillie exchanged letters regularly while he was at camp, though the contents were always kept private.

Q-ball had a strong interest and fascination with Native Americans. Even before the OA came to the Arkansas Council, Q-ball was organizing ceremonies and dances. When the OA arrived, Q-ball threw himself in. He joined the organization and quickly moved up the ranks. He was an Arrowman by the mid-1950s, Brotherhood by at least 1958, and Vigil by at least 1962. He regularly participated in ceremonies and had a headdress with feathers to the ground.

With a life in Scouting, Q-ball was honored appropriately. He received the Silver Beaver in 1944. He later sponsored as Class of Eagles. He even had a camporee named in his honor. But what people remember about Q-ball was his saying, “You Know?” or even his humility. He was a servant leader who put others first.

Q-ball stayed at Boxwell as long as he could. His last summer was 1984. He had been coming consistently to camp, by his count, since 1963. But age had caught up with him and a fall earlier in the year derailed his return. He passed away three years later in 1987 with his wife, his brother, and several good camp staff friends around his bed. Boxwell was with him to the end.

And where did the name “Q-ball” come from? Well, there’s some debate about that. In one story, Pearce claims the name from his bald head—bald like a cue ball. In another version, Pearce told a story of how he was a camp director for Akers at Cedar Valley. As everything for the camp came through him, he equated the job to a game of pool—the cue-ball hits and affects everything. And that’s where his name came from. How “Cue Ball” became “Q-ball” is one of those great mysteries that will never be solved…

Q-ball and Tillie
Q-ball and Tillie at home, sometime in the late1970s, early 1980s. Note that Q-ball is wearing a Boxwell t-shirt and a Boxwell belt.

On This Day, October 31

On this day–Friday, October 31, 2008–Howard B. Olson passed away. Olson was the Lodge Advisor for the Wa-Hi-Nasa #111 from 1978 to 1982, but his influence far outweighed these five years of service. Olson is credited with developing the strong relationship between the Council and the Lodge. The Lodge began holding “tap out” events on Wednesday nights during camp and then cracker barrels. The Lodge served a greater role at Jamborees and with camp promotion. Several work days at Boxwell were held as well. And of course, Olson’s leadership inspired a generation of younger men, many of whom are important contributors to the Council today. Olson’s influence was deemed so great that in 1993 the OA Lodge was rededicated as the Howard Olson OA Lodge. Olson’s impact on the modern Lodge cannot be overstated.

Olson was an Eagle Scout and graduated Hillsboro High School in 1946. He graduated from Vanderbilt and upon graduation enlisted in the Marines as a 2nd Lieutenant. He was a financial consultant for 40 years in his non-Scouting life. He earned the Silver Buffalo, the Silver Antelope, and the Distinguished Service Award. Though diagnosed with MS in 1955, he never let him slow him down.

Services were held at 3pm on Monday, November 3 at Woodlawn Memorial Park. Active Pallbearers included Derrick Olson, David Garrett, Chris Snoddy, Craig Salazar, Hugh Travis and Richard Hill. Olson was 80 years old.

This, unfortunately, is the best photo we have of Olson. We would welcome others.

Howard Olson and others
Howard Olson (standing) at an OA event at Boxwell, late 1970s.

On This Day, October 26

On this day–Thursday, October 26, 1995–dedication ceremonies were held for the 1994 Capital Development Campaign. CubWorld wasthe centerpiece of this campaign, though not the only component. Initial discussion involved transforming the area that is the Percy Dempsey Camporee, but that conversation turned to Camp Murrey, which had been experiencing declines for some years. Murrey would be transformed into CubWorld, a new kind of family camp.

Construction went on for most of 1995 with retired Director of Support Services Tom Willhite serving as a consultant–his final job as a professional. The ceremonies began at 3pm on the 26th with the reservation open to visit as there were several sites to be dedicated that day. The official dedication ceremonies began at 5pm. Official remarks were made by Aubrey Harwell, Jr. the Council President as well as E. W. “Bud” Wendell, the campaign chairman. CubWorld itself was dedicated as were a host of smaller facilities within camp and other sites around the Reservation, including program shelters, special needs campsites, and a new waterfront at Camp Craig.

Seen here is page 10 from the Dedication Ceremonies booklet, a map outlining all the sites dedicated at that event.

Map of Dedication Sites
Page 10 from the Dedication booklet for “Scouting. The Handbook for Life,” aka the 1994 Capital Development Campaign.

From the Archives, October 24, 2021

Boxwell Greats Repost Round-up

We’re approaching the end of Boxwell’s Centennial year. We’ve put a lot of great content out there and we still have one or two surprises left before the year ends. As we approach the end, we wanted to hit one or two more Repost Round-Ups.

Given everything we’ve discussed here over the years, it seems appropriate to do a repost on our Boxwell Greats Series. Clearly there are more people we need to add to this list, so make your suggestions in the comments. In the meantime, enjoy taking a look back at these people who helped make Boxwell what it is. Also, be sure to check out the Primer section on the main VirtualBoxwell page for a few additions folks.

Here’s our list, in no particular order…

Farmer Bush:
Larry Green:
Bobby Smith:
Tom Parker:
Pearl Schleicher:
Leslie G. Boxwell:
James Johnson:
Beany Elam:
Ward Akers:
Jerry Barnett:
Dutch Mann:
Kerry Parker:
Steve Eubank:
Lance Ussery:
Wilbur Creighton:
Jim Barr:
Pat Deugaw:

On This Day, October 22

On this day–Wednesday, October 22, 1975–Charles E. Parish passed away. Parish had been an important force for the Council in the early years of Ward Akers. Parish served as the Council President from 1957-1958. During these years, Parish spearheaded much of the work that led to the creation of the Old Hickory Lake Boxwell, helping get the 1957 legislation granting the land passed as well as developing the plan for what would be Boxwell Reservation.

A long time Tullahoma resident, Parish was also an Eagle Scout. The 1960 Class of Eagles was in his honor He was also awarded the Silver Beaver in 1948. Because of his continued work with the Council, the Rock Island Boxwell was renamed the Charles E. Parish Wilderness Reservation in his honor as part of the 1972 Capital Development Campaign. This was a fitting name change as Rock Island was close to Tullahoma and Parish’s son John had served on the Rock Island staff for several years.

Parish died in Park View Hospital in Nashville and was buried in Rose Hill Memorial Gardens in Tullahoma, TN. He was 67 years old.

Charles E. Parish
Council President, 1957-1958, Charles E. Parish. Official Council Portrait.