Funeral services have been held for Joyce Hoffner Pearson, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of dresses for Ross Stores Inc., who died Jan. 15 at the age of 67 after a long illness.

Pearson was a lifelong dress enthusiast whose interest in what would become her vocation commenced at an early age when her mother, Mildred, taught her how to sew during her childhood in Worcester, Mass.

Deeply religious, she graduated from Lutheran Collegiate Bible School in Teaneck, N.J., but pursued a career in retailing upon graduation. Beginning at Jordan Marsh in Boston, she held merchandising posts, always focused on dresses, at Marshalls and later became head of the dress department of Value City Stores.

Having served as vice president and divisional merchandise manager of dresses in Ross’ New York buying office, she was promoted to her most recent position as part of a general restructuring of executive and merchandising responsibilities four years ago.

“She reported to me for more than 15 years and I can honestly say I never had a meeting or a discussion with her when I didn’t learn something,” said Michael Balmuth, vice chairman and chief executive officer of Ross. “She was a spectacular merchant who had a remarkable passion for dresses. She had a tremendous eye and understanding of how the dress business moved and how the off-price business worked.”

Balmuth recalled that Pearson served as a mentor to countless people in the industry, often for years after she had worked with them. “She was just a wonderful person who touched a lot of people in positive ways,” he said.

She is survived by her longtime partner, James Burns, of Amherst, N.H.; a brother, Bruce Hoffner, and two nephews, Shawn and Bruce Hoffner Jr. She was predeceased by her husband, Carl Russell “Russ” Pearson.
Services for Pearson were held Jan. 21 at the Mercadante Funeral Home in Worcester.

Pearson requested that, in lieu of flowers, donations in her memory be made to the Animal Rescue League of New Hampshire in Bedford, N.H.