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May 26, 1938- March 17, 2019
Famed attorney, Navy veteran, Stanford football player, beloved family man and self-described really nice guy Gary Eugene Pike passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on March 17, 2019. He was 80 years old.
Larger than life in both stature and personality, Gary was an unforgettable force of kindness, keen wit and boundless generosity to all who knew him.
Gary grew up poor in Culver City, Los Angeles, and originally intended to become a priest. But, ironically, bad knees led him away from the priesthood to the athletic fields of Santa Monica City College, where over the course of a year of hard work he went from middling high school athlete to gridiron standout and nationally ranked shot putter. From there, an unexpected football scholarship to Stanford would change the course of his life.
The first in his family to go to university, Gary was an all coast tackle and also played varsity rugby. He was invited to try out by the Green Bay Packers and Baltimore Colts but ultimately decided to stay at Stanford to attend law school.
After graduating from law school, Gary enlisted in the Navy and served as a lieutenant on the USS Constellation. He was the officer of the deck on the aircraft carrier during one of the opening salvos of the Vietnam War, when the Connie launched a retaliatory strike for the Gulf of Tonkin incident. Gary and the crew were awarded the Navy Unit Citation Ribbon, Viet Nam Expeditionary Medal and National Defense Service Medal.
Gary was honorably discharged from the Navy and soon met the love of his life, Judith Minna, when he spotted her across the room at a Spinster’s Dance looking like “a vision of loveliness in a white headband.” His first words to Judy: “We would have tall children.” They were engaged two weeks later but waited an extra week to tell Judy’s parents. They were married 52 years.
Gary had a long and incredibly successful career as a family law attorney and partner at Mitchell, Ashworth, Keeney, Barry and Pike. Known in equal parts for his cunning in the courtroom and empathy with clients, he was hailed as one of the country’s finest attorneys for two decades by the annual review, “Best Lawyers in America.” A staunch supporter of women in the workplace, Gary broke with tradition to hire the firm’s first female attorney, paving the way for many who followed.
In his spare time, Gary earned a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, convincing the rest of his family to join him in the martial arts. A picture from a cocktail party years ago shows Gary and Judy dressed to the nines, striking a fists-raised, stone-faced sparring pose at the camera.
After retiring, Gary served as a docent on the USS Midway and a scorekeeper at community college basketball games. He was also a Eucharistic minister at Blessed Sacrament parish, where he attended mass daily.
Despite his many and varied accomplishments, Gary remained humble and modest throughout his life. He often remarked that he could never quite believe that he had come so far and attained so many blessings. An ardent foodie, his enthusiasm for every moment and every meal was infectious. Nothing was ever taken for granted.
Gary is survived by his wife Judy, his children Amanda and John, his daughter in law Zeina Sayegh Pike, his son in law Adam Keker, his grandchildren Ella, Owen, Arabella, Walker, Alaia and DiAuria, and his devoted golden retriever, Gatsby. He is preceded in death by his parents Lloyd and Augusta, his sister Linda Goodson, and his golden retrievers Emma, Arthur and Roddenberry. A staunch Catholic, Gary believed that if heaven lived up to its billing it would be populated by many golden retrievers.
A service to celebrate Gary’s extraordinary life will be held at Blessed Sacrament Church. As promised, there will be bagpipes.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Wounded Warriors Project, P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, Kansas 66675. https://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/