Thomas Richard Pyke, 81, went home to be with the Lord Saturday, April 20, 2013, in Naples, Fla. He passed away peacefully with family at his side. Tom was born at his family home in Center, Ind., on Jan. 8, 1932.
His strong work ethic began at an early age with early morning farm chores, running trap lines and 4-H activities. He graduated from Jackson Township High School in 1950 in a class of 14. Tom received his bachelor of science degree from Purdue University, where he was also an active member of ROTC. After college, he spent two years at Fort Belvoir in Virginia in the Army Corps of Engineers. He returned to Purdue University and received his master’s and Ph.D. in Industrial mycology and biochemistry in 1960. He worked for E.R. Squibb in New Jersey for two years before joining The Upjohn Co. in Kalamazoo, Mich. His career at Upjohn began in pharmaceutical research and, along with his colleagues, he was awarded eight patents. Tom was the recipient of the prestigious W.E. Upjohn Award in 1987. He finished his career in management as director of bioprocess research and development and retired in 1992 with 30 years of service.
Tom and family lived on a farm in Schoolcraft, and then moved to Portage. With Roberta Warnock, he raised three children, Neil, Lynn and Ann. He instilled a love of travel and the outdoors in all of his children. The family enjoyed backpacking and camping trips to Yellowstone, Florida, Mammoth Caves, Canada, and Isle Royale, along with many more adventures. The family cottage in Charlevoix, Mich., had a special place in Tom’s heart. It is a great spot for hunting morel mushrooms in the early spring, something Tom looked forward to each year. Many wonderful, happy times were spent there with family and friends. The kids and grandkids always loved it when Dad/Grandpa took them boating or biking and made homemade ice cream for all to enjoy.
Tom and Susan (Pontz) White were married Feb. 15, 1990. They were fortunate to travel extensively with the Purdue Alumni Association to many places, including Italy, England, Scotland, Austria and Alaska. In addition to travel, Tom was an avid Purdue fan and he and Susan took many trips to Lafayette to sporting and musical events.
Tom and Susan enjoyed living in Richland Township and in a home with acreage and a pond adjacent to The Upjohn Co. farm land. Working and maintaining their property was a labor of love for both of them and aided by his John Deere tractors. Though Tom moved away from the farm after high school, he maintained a love for gardening and farming. He enjoyed planting a huge vegetable and flower garden.
They also owned Sycamore Farms in Indiana, in partnership with the Winger family. Though his work life was in the science field, he always considered himself a farmer first.
After retirement, he applied his keen scientific mind to other pursuits. He enjoyed investing, developing real estate and also became involved in local government. He was on the Richland Township Planning Commission and its board of review. Tom had a strong desire to give back to the Richland community and to help preserve the “country” feel of the Richland area.
Music was in Tom’s blood and he enjoyed a variety of genres, from instrumental to opera in his later years. He sang in church choirs, the “Sometimes Singers” and barbershop groups. He also played lively songs on his trumpet at family gatherings and parties.
Tom will be greatly missed by his wife, family and friends. He will always be remembered by his love of tradition and all things related to family.
Tom is survived by his loving wife, Susan; children, Neil (Patricia) Pyke, Boise, Idaho, Lynn (Jim) DeWitt, Caledonia, Mich., and Ann (Todd) Mora, Richland, Mich.; Susan’s children, Laura White, Royal Oak, Mich., and Lisa (Todd) Vigneault, Herndon, Va.; grandchildren, Lauryn Pyke, Kori Pyke, Tara DeWitt (Dario Diovisalvi), Scott VanderMeulen, Taylor VanderMeulen, Riley DeWitt, Celeste Mora, Dillon Mora, Spenser Mora, Devin Vigneault and Jenna Vigneault; great-grandchildren, Danika Barker and Cayden Barker; sisters, Judy (Donald) Winger and Jean (Roy) Lavengood, both of Kokomo; brother, David (Sophie) Pyke, Grand Rapids, Mich.; mother of his children, Roberta Warnock, Richland, Mich.; and many nephews and nieces with special mention of farm partners, Steve and Brad Winger.
Tom was preceded in death by his parents, Jesse Earl and Dorothy (Phillips) Pyke.
The visitation will be from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday at Farley-Estes & Dowdle Funeral Home, Richland Chapel, 9170 E. D Ave., Richland, Mich. The funeral service to celebrate Tom’s life will be at 11 a.m. Monday at Gracespring Bible Church (formerly Richland Bible Church) at 8643 Gull Road, Richland. A time of fellowship and a luncheon to continue Tom’s life celebration will immediately follow the service at the church. Final interment will be in Prairie Home Cemetery, Richland, after the luncheon with the United States Army Honor Guard bestowing military honors.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Tom’s honor may be directed to Avow Hospice, 1095 Whippoorwill Lane, Naples, FL 34105-3847. Their care and compassion enabled Tom to pass away peacefully and in the presence of family in his own home or the Gracespring Bible Church, 8643 Gull Road, Richland, MI 49083, where Tom enjoyed singing in the choir and attended church regularly.
Personal messages for the family and/or favorite memories of Tom may be placed at www.farleyestesdowdle.com.
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