Thursday, August 14, 2008

In memoriam

In memoriam

I lost a very dear friend this week, Stephen Pierrel, the kindest, smartest, funniest dear man with the highest integrity of any man I've ever known. And much too young to make his transition but I know, God, you don't make bad decisions so I need to trust. But what a loss to the community. His whole life was one of service to his community.
Stephen and I started out in the business of therapy together when we were office neighbors at Texas Research Institute for Mental Science. We both were on a big learning curve treating the indigent and supervising psychiatric interns in the child and family clinics. When TRIMS lost their funding and closed, Stephen asked me to come with him to Houston Child Guidance Center to help establish a satellite clinic out here in Clear Lake and we did. He had a Phd in Psychology and I was a LPC and LMFT and we were a great team. Until the Clear Lake clinic was built out and running we shared a desk at the downtown office seeing clients. Stephen was a pack rat and we had some great laughs over my trying to claim a bare spot on the desk. He was a great support to me in meeting the challenges of operating in another dysfunctional system.
We got the Clear Lake clinic going well, no lack of patients and along with 4 or 5 other therapists in the area organized the Bay Area Network of Mental Health Professionals which continues to be a vibrant organization of value to the community. The purpose came about because in the early 80s there was a rash of teen suicides in the Clear Lake area and though there were many therapists in the area, they were overlooked and therapists in Houston were called in to help in the schools to try to get the community back on even footing. The organization has served to make a presence of mental health professionals in the Clear Lake area and offer continued training for them and continues to do so.
In the meantime Stephen began dating Marsha Bauman, a social worker from Child Guidance, wonderful woman and they married. Stephen had this cute little gold Mercedes Benz convertible sports car that he was constantly looking for parts for and he and Marsha were just so cute together running around town in it. A great match and later they adopted a precious baby girl who is now a beautiful young lady adored by her dad.
Stephen loved unusual ties and wore them well with great humor. The above picture was taken at an office birthday celebration for him. He never failed to find humor in the most difficult circumstances which helped to keep us all balanced. He was very creative, enjoyed woodworking and while taking a class in silver casting, cast one of my designs for me, a pendanct that I still wear.
In 1987 we made the decision to leave Child Guidance and set up a private practice in Clear Lake and Stephen found a great office on El Camino Real from which we operated for a few years inviting Edie Apt in with us on a part-time basis. But it became evident that Stephen's main practice was going to be downtown and we closed the Clear Lake office. He went to Park Plaza medical center and I took over Charter Hospital's clinic.
Stephen and I sorta lost touch in the last decade or so...he was teaching at Baylor and I, at U of H but I always felt he had my back and hope that he felt the same from me. He became an expert in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and was called in to organize care following Hurricane Katrina with all the evacuees and after explosions at local plants. He was a great teacher and mentor to many. He was the Chief Psychologist for the Houston Fire Department and won many awards for his service.
Stephen developed prostate cancer about 3 years ago and it appeared to be in remission but returned this year. He was on chemotherapy and contracted a staph infection that he couldn't shake.
I will miss him along with many others whose lives he touched. An amazing gifted man.


Kristin said...

Wow - you weren't exaggerating when you said what a great man he was. What a wonderful tribute this is to him. He sounds like an awesome man.

kpierrel said...

Thank you so much for writing this about my dad. I am glad that he made such a great impact in your life as he did ours. We understand the concept of finding ANY space and sympathize about sharing a desk (can't teach an old dog new tricks).
Anyways, we appreciate such a great tribute and are glad that his legacy lives on in the lives of others. Feel free to get in touch.