"I said, 'You don't know me, but I'm in a difficult situation,' " Pearce said. "I've got a shotgun pointed at me."

Sher agreed to put Sexton on the 5 p.m. news, and after seeing the broadcast, Sexton surrendered.

"Through Richard Sher's efforts in putting [Sexton] on the 5 o'clock news, everything worked out happily ever after," Pearce said, chuckling. "After that, we lived fairly peacefully."

Selling the farm

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In 2000, Pearce decided to sell most of the farmland to Rite Aid, which built a distribution center on the property.

"Our family didn't want to continue [farming]," Pearce said. "They couldn't keep up the lifestyle that they wanted."

With the farmland mostly gone, Pearce decided to go in a different direction. He took the soil that was removed during construction of the distribution center and started a topsoil business that he runs today.

"My topsoil is different from everybody else's because it's good topsoil," Pearce said.

"The tax people keep telling me that I don't make enough to cover my depreciates, but enough to cover my expenses," Pearce laughs.

Despite his age, Pearce shows no sign of letting up, and is grateful that farming doesn't consume all of his time.

"I'm 78 and a half and still going," Pearce said. "I've just gotten to the point that I can take off, and if my granddaughter has Grandparents Day, I can go do it. I couldn't do it when I was a farmer."

Despite the end of his farming career, Pearce still takes an active interest in the community

"I may not be actively farming, but I'm still regularly involved in helping make local decisions for the land," Pearce said.

Over the years, Pearce has been very active with many local organizations, including serving on the Harford County Planning Advisory Board, serving as chairman of the Maryland Outstanding Young Farmers and serving as director for Columbian Bank.

"The biggest honor was being on the board of the farm bureau, and being president of the farm bureau," Pearce said.

In earlier days, Pearce said, all of the farm bureaus members were full-time farmers.

"Today, it's not that way anymore," Pearce said. "It's hard [for farmers] to get away and devote their time to other things."

Pearce encourages area farmers to get involved with the Harford County Farm Bureau.

"I've stressed to Tom Adams, who farmed our land, that he has to be a involved with the farm bureau," Pearce said. "It helps you keep abreast of the changing laws."

"There are so many government regulations today and so many people who want to 'help' you manage your operations," Pearce added, laughing.

Pearce considers himself an advocate for farmers, but recognizes the need for development as well.

"We need to preserve good farmland, but we don't need to preserve good farmland in the development envelope, " Pearce said.

Looking back, he credits his success to those who helped him along the way.

"Although in my lifetime I've worked pretty hard, I've had a lot of people help me," Pearce said. "Friends have helped throughout my whole life, and I appreciate that."

"We always tried to do the right thing, and be good members of the community," Pearce added. "Being chosen [for the award] is a mark of our participation in the community."