WILLIAM EDWARD PIKE
William E. Pike, age 91, of New Canaan, Connecticut, died on March 18, 2020 of complications from COVID-19. Fr. Peter Walsh of St. Mark's Episcopal Church, New Canaan, administered the Last Rites. His wife and three children then gave him prayers of love and appreciation through a speaker phone at the Norwalk Hospital in Norwalk, CT. It was a blessed and peaceful farewell to an exceptional life.
Bill was born in Fort Collins, Colorado on January 25, 1929 to his loving parents Harry H. Pike and Alice Swinscoe Pike, along with his twin brother, the late Dr. Robert H. Pike of Fort Collins. The Pike twins descended from early Fort Collins families who homesteaded in the area in territorial days. Within minutes of meeting Bill, you would learn that he came from Fort Collins, and he went to the U. S. Naval Academy.
Growing up, Bill's grandparents, Edward and Mary Ann Dixon, were very influential in his life. Edward ("Papa"), who had emigrated from England, developed Bill's interest in the world from a young age by reading him adventure books and telling him stories of English and world history. He promised they would travel together one day to amazing places all around the globe.
Thus began Bill's lifelong love for books and learning. After school, he usually walked to the local library where his interests kept developing, and he formed a broader world view. Sometimes he would just open the encyclopedia and read. His focus grew in history, literature, politics, business and sports.
In 1947, Bill Pike graduated from Fort Collins High School where he and his brother Bob were involved in athletics as co-captains of the Lambkin football team and members of State Champion football and basketball teams, and the State All-Star football team. After attending the University of Colorado for one year on a football scholarship, Bill received his congressional appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland and graduated with the Class of 1952. From 1952 to 1954 he served aboard the USS Collett, a destroyer deployed in the Korean War theatre. Later assignments were aboard the USS Northampton, and as Personal Aide and Flag Lieutenant to the Admiral commanding amphibious forces in the Mediterranean.
Bill enjoyed a lifelong affiliation with the U.S. Naval Academy. He was a plank owner, a lifetime President's Circle donor and generously supported The Pike Family Scholars in the International Programs Office. Bill loved Class of '52 reunions and attending Navy football games around the country. At his death he already held 6 tickets for the upcoming Army-Navy Football Game in Philadelphia this December. Go Navy, Beat Army! will surely be heard in the heavenly realms.
In 1958 Bill left the naval service to attend Harvard Business School from which he graduated in 1960 with an MBA degree. With a $500 bank loan to purchase two suits, a train ticket, and one month's rent, he entered the employ of Morgan Guaranty Trust Co. of New York where he spent his 30 year banking career rising to Chairman of the Credit Policy Committee of the bank and its parent, J.P. Morgan & Co. During his career, he also served as Chairman of Morgan Bank Delaware, and Morgan Christiana Corp., and as Executive Vice President of J.P. Morgan & Co.
He served as a director of diversified apparel manufacturer VF Corp of Greensboro, NC, American States Insurance Co. of Indianapolis, and the Somat Corporation. He also served on several Civic boards including The New York Blood Center, Miss Porter's School in Farmington, CT, The Delaware Symphony, The Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council, New Canaan Inn, Country Club of New Canaan, New Canaan Men's Club, and the Vestry of St. Mark's Parish in New Canaan, CT. He was a member of the Harvard Club of NYC, Ends of the Earth Dinner, and Balsam Lake Club on the Beaver Kill.
Following his corporate career, for the past 31 years Bill maintained an investment office at home, pursued intellectual interests, consumed daily papers, was an avid reader, and was deeply involved in his children's lives. He had the help of a devoted secretary and friend, Alison Buchanan, for the past 24 years. Bill generously aided friends and relatives with financial advice and guidance. In appreciation, one friend established the William E Pike Non-Fiction Book Collection at the Statesboro, GA Regional Library. Hundreds of books have been donated in his name.
Bill married Catherine Broward Crawford, of New Canaan, the evening of June 26, 1965 at the newly built St. Mark's Episcopal Church with their reception at the Country Club of New Canaan. They began their life of travel on an extended European honeymoon which included a Mediterranean cruise. Trips, including an African safari to Kenya and Tanzania, the Far East, Egypt, the Holyland, the Caribbean, plus yearly visits to Fort Collins for family and friends, filled the travel calendar for 50 years. They enjoyed crossing the Atlantic on the Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen Mary, and the Queen Mary II. Happiness was holidays and vacationing away together, with family and Cathie's sister, Dorcas, and her daughter Dorcas Ann Casey.
Traveling the United States, particularly the west, was a highlight for Bill and included annual fly-fishing trips to Montana and Colorado with his children. He had one favorite trip driving solo for several weeks along the Lewis and Clark Trail. For historical perspective, Bill liked to visit old cemeteries and read every landmark sign along the way. Everywhere he traveled, Bill wore his NAVY cap with pride, always a conversation starter.
Bill loved their home for 51 years, the one he bought after 20 minutes in 1969 at the insistence of his new, young wife. She pictured it instantly as their home to raise children. In his later years, he developed a great interest in his trees and gardens, taking pleasure telling visitors about the 50 varieties of trees on his property. He planted one Cottonwood from a seed that he caught blowing in the springtime air 10 years ago. "Woody" is now 15 feet tall and remained his favorite.
Bill carried great pride that he came from Fort Collins, CO, then with a population of 11,000, with its majestic Elm trees lining College Avenue. Born during the Great Depression and World War II era, he was raised on small town values and experiences. His "Southside Gang" of 8 boys spent their days as far as their bikes could carry them, and nights found them under the streetlights near the high school and football field, where they dreamed up endless games with endless rules. The mothers had whistles with signals to call the boys (and their dogs) home for dinner. Weekends were spent going to the movies for 10 cents or to the high school or college baseball, football, and basketball games. The kids were free for home-grown fun and great times were going up the Poudre River to fish, camp, hike, or picnic. It was a wonderful time and place to grow up.
Bill always remembered names, even the first, middle and last name of his teachers. He recalled easily words to songs and poems of his day, and treasured the books in his library, including the first book his mother gave to him at age 8 for Christmas, Fleetfoot The Cave Boy, The Story of Man by William L. Nida.
He also recalled that his 5th grade teacher did not like him and recorded him as "slip-shod and lazy." But his 6th grade teacher believed in him, and from then on, Bill excelled throughout his school years. He was a leader and his teachers appreciated his interest in learning.
Bill was very proud of his mother and father. His mother was the most popular mother of the gang, the only one who always welcomed the kids into their home rain, snow, muddy boots, no matter the weather. She loved her boys.
Bill admired his father. With an 8th grade education, he left home in Missouri, became a cowboy in Montana, wandered to Fort Collins, and then rose in the Coleman Company to Vice President of western states, persevering and never losing his job throughout the Great Depression. Following his father's example, Bill always had a job during his teen years. At dinnertime his father would say to the family, "Pass the meat to Bill first. He has a job."
Bill never seemed his older age. At 89, his schedule included visiting Florida with friends, traveling the Footsteps of St. Francis in Assisi and Rome with the church, The Homestead with family, Fifty-Year Club High School Reunion in Fort Collins, and a cruise in the Baltics and Russia. Then just months later the family celebrated his 90th birthday in Arizona.
In summary, Bill loved life, his family and friends, neighborhood, entertaining, travel and the St. Mark's Church community. He valued courage and had a quietly powerful presence. A man born to lead and to serve, he was patriotic, responsible, loyal, discerning, kind-hearted, and possessed an intellectual curiosity and a steadfast moral compass. The hundreds of loving letters of condolences received speak to a wonderful life filled with generosity, grace and appreciation for others. He was a gentleman.
Bill was predeceased by his parents, Alice Swinscoe and Harry H. Pike and his brothers, Dr. Robert H. Pike (his wife Marian Ford Pike) and Fred S. Pike of Fort Collins, CO, grandnephew Cory D. Pike, his sister-in-law Dorcas and niece Dorcas Ann Casey of New Canaan and West Chester, PA.
He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Catherine, daughter Elizabeth Catherine Pike Sheehy, sons Robert Crawford Pike (Ashleigh Cornett) and Daniel William Pike, and four grandchildren, Tatum Catherine and Harrison Christopher Pike, and Alice Louise and Truett James Sheehy, niece Norma Pike Pomerleau (Steven), and nephews David William (Jeannine) and Gregory Ford Pike (Allison).
Memorial services will be held at St. Mark's Episcopal Church (TBD) in New Canaan with interment at Grand View Cemetery in Fort Collins, CO.
Published in New Canaan Advertiser on Jun. 30, 2020.