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Richard A. Pierce, 86; Historian Specialized in Russian Alaska

September 24, 2004|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Richard A. Pierce, 86, one of the foremost authorities on Russian Alaska, died Sept. 14 at his home in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, said his daughter, Catherine. The cause of death was not disclosed.

Pierce was a professor of history at Queen's University in Kingston and at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks.

He was considered one of the leading scholars in his field: the history of Russia's presence in Alaska, from Russia's first settlement on Kodiak Island in 1784 to the United States' purchase of Alaska in 1867.

Pierce published, wrote or edited more than 60 volumes on Alaska's history, according to the University of Alaska in Fairbanks.

A native of Manteca, Calif., Pierce served in the Army during World War II.

He earned his bachelor's degree at UC Berkeley before the war, and his master's and doctorate there in the 1950s. He was a Fulbright fellow in 1953 and 1954.

Pierce's daughter said he developed a passion for Russian history after taking a course in its language in pursuit of a civil service job and then touring the region after World War II.

He was a professor of history at Queen's University from 1959 to 1988 and the University of Alaska in Fairbanks from 1988 to 1998.

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