Retired Sgt. 1st Class Dave Pike died after a brief but complicated hospital stay at Lawrence Memorial Hospital on June 16, 2020, in Lawrence, Kansas. He was 71. He had an earlier brush with death in 2014 when hospitalized for six weeks with multiple illnesses including lymphoma, or, as he liked to say “The Big C.” Dave wasn’t ready to go yet and he convinced death to hold off for another six years. He is survived by his beloved wife, Jean Ann (Owen) Pike, of the home.
Other survivors include his daughter Fadra (Cotter) Mitchell, Vinland; sons, Eric Pike and William Pike, of Lawrence; brother Leon Pike, Chandler, Arizona; seven grandchildren: Chesney Buck, Sylvan Mitchell, Holden Pike, Wake Mitchell, Eli Mitchell, Camden Johnson, and Cheyenne Kindhart.
Frugal to the end, Dave elected cremation. He waved off any talk about his death with “I don’t care. I’m going to be dead. Keep it cheap and simple.”
Due to the coronavirus pandemic and concerns for people with preexisting health conditions, his family will celebrate his life privately on Saturday, July 4, Dave’s favorite holiday. His ashes will be shot into the sky in a fireworks grand finale. Arrangements for live-streaming his farewell launch will be shared via social media.
David was born on June 7, 1949, in Marysville, Kansas, to his late parents Arthur Pike and Marie (Wildt) Pike. His parents were respected farmers. As founding members, they led the Balderson Boosters 4-H club for over 20 years. Dave’s formative years were shaped by his 4-H and church relationships.
David’s father was an electrical know-how who taught his 4-H protege how to wire houses. Dave’s mother was the Home Ec. Queen, famous for her canned goods. His 4-H parents raised a man fondly remembered for baking the finest pies, birthing prize livestock, plumbing houses, healing injuries, blowing glass, building theater sets, singing his heart out off key, in a dress for the local community theater, and growing the finest of flowers and produce.
Dave’s education started in a one-room school with his dear friends Sherry and Hank through the 7th grade. He completed 8th – 12th grades in Marysville. Upon graduating in 1967, Dave enrolled at Phillips University in Enid, Oklahoma, with the goal of becoming a minister. He studied at Phillips until he was drafted for the Vietnam War as a conscientious objector.
David completed his basic training in June 1969. He served the U.S. Navy as a hospital corpsman for six years. Dave completed his Navy service honorably in 1975. His service was recognized with a National Defense Service Medal, a Medal of Good Conduct and a Letter of commendation (NNMC, Bethesda).
David used to say he was a little lost after he left the Navy until the love of his life, Jean Ann, found him at the end of a kite string in a Nebraska cornfield. They were married soon after in 1977. Jean Ann brought two feral children into the marriage making for a very active rest of their lives together.
Dave returned to Kansas with his new family to assist his father with farming in 1978. While helping manage the family farm, Dave worked as a plumber and electrician.
David resumed his military career in 1982 when he enlisted with the Kansas Army National Guard, 2nd Battalion 130th Field Artillery. When Dave wasn’t fixing busted pipes, bossing people around backstage, or stuffing his stage falsies, he was off to National Guard camp for what he called his weekend warrior training. His fellow guardsmen admired his unique leadership style, his encyclopedic knowledge, and his wacky sense of humor. They respected his pacifism and his outspoken irreverence for using guns as a means to solve problems. Stories have it that his daily routines at camp started with coffee brewed precisely at 4:20 am while wearing nothing but his speedos and his “Hemp hoppers” rope sandals. He could smell army baloney a mile away and he shared his meals with the armadillos that lived under the bunkers used for sleeping quarters. Staff Sgt. Pike retired from duty in 2001 with 25 years of service.
In the meantime, David and his family moved to Emporia to pursue college degrees. Dave graduated with his BA in sociology from Emporia State University in 1995.
Having earned their diplomas, Dave and Jean Ann moved to Lawrence in 1996. They fit right in with the East Lawrence neighborhood and the local arts scene. Dave mentored many young gardeners and artists. He supported the Social Service League as volunteer, handy man, and board member. He enjoyed his grandchildren and their school and Summer Youth Theater productions. He cherished spending summers with his grandson Holden.
David lived a rich last six years despite his poor health. He spent his days feeding his chickens, watering tomatoes, and harvesting asparagus and strawberries. He loved visits on the back porch where he held court and his wife’s hand, admired his abundant iris, watched the bunnies play leap-frog and the nesting doves fledge their young. He will be remembered in the butterflies that hover over his summer flowers.
To share your memories or to send a condolence message to his family please visit https://warrenmcelwain.com/obituary/david-d-pike/
Memorial contributions can be made by planting a tree or to the Dave Pike Memorial fund via Facebook or checks may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary.
Memorial contributions can be made by planting a tree or to the Dave Pike Memorial fund via Facebook or checks may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, Kansas 66044. For more information or to post a condolence go to warrenmcelwain.com