James David Pike, age 91, left his earthly body on April 22nd, 2023, to be with his sweetheart Shirley who he missed dearly since her passing in 2018. James “Jim” was born in Huntington, W.Va. to Howard and Ethel (Boyd) Pike on Aug 29th, 1931. He lived in Huntington until his family moved to West Palm Beach Florida. Jim graduated from high school there and joined the Air Force soon after. He met his “angel” Shirley Haensgen at a USO dance while stationed at Truax Field in Madison WI. After a 6-month courtship they were married in 1951 and started a family.
After leaving military service they settled in Marshall WI and Jim worked several jobs in the Madison area including Erickson’s Oil and as a haberdasher at Manchester’s. Jim made the decision to join the Dept. of Defense as a Civilian contract worker. His first assignment took the family to Patrick AFB in Cocoa Beach from 64-66. Next Jim and Shirley and their 5 children traveled to Adak, Alaska. Jim loved telling the story of how they all thought they were moving to Seattle Washington not realizing the address was a Federal Post Office (FPO) for a Navy base in the Aleutian Islands and how on the first night there, all five kids piled into bed with him and Shirley at 1am when there was an earth “tremor”.
The first of many adventures, that he would have during his civil service career that took him and the family to Florida, Niagara Falls, N.Y., Bermuda, the Philippine Islands and back to Adak several times. Jim retired in 1986 and he and Shirley lived in Pensacola Florida while snow birding back to Madison for several years before staying permanently in Madison to be close to family.
Jim was an avid puzzle solver which included the daily newspaper crossword, cryptograms, and Jumble. He enjoyed watching Wheel of Fortune (which he actually auditioned for) and Jeopardy. Always a tinkerer, and as the “answer man” he knew a little bit about a lot. His grandson-in-law recently said “Jim never met a stranger”. No truer words were said. Always a welcoming smile, firm handshake and possibly a naughty joke or two. He will be missed by many.
Jim is survived by his sons David (Sue) Pike of Tucson, John Pike of Madison, and daughter Diane Bock and her partner Bill Reller also of Tucson. Further survived by his brother Jess (Rose) Pike of Aurora WI, 12 grandchildren, 14 great grandchildren and dear friends, Ellie Revels of Mt. Horeb, WI and Andrew and Mary Sewell of Madison. He is preceded in death by his parents, wife of 67 years Shirley, brother Gene, son Randall and daughter Theresa.
The family will hold a memorial service this Summer on August 19th at 10:00 at the Roselawn Memorial Park chapel followed by a gathering of friends and family to be held at the Fireman’s Park shelter Progressive Lane Monona WI, at 11:30.
Memorials contributions in Jim's name may be made to the Madison Chamber Orchestra. https://wcoconcerts.org/support/donate
Cress Funeral & Cremation Service
3610 Speedway Road Madison