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…