‘Loved’ band director diesPublished 12:00am Friday, November 22, 2013
Members of the Opp and Straughn communities are mourning the loss of a long-time community member and former band director this week.
Tony Pike, a native of Hogansville, Ga., and most recently, band director at Davidson High School in Mobile, passed away Wednesday after battling heart problems.
By mid-morning Thursday, offers of condolences were already streaming in from all over the state via Facebook.
Opp High School graduate Nichole Clark Rhodes was able to form a personal relationship with Pike and his family, and said she was “lucky” to have known them.
“I was very lucky to have a friendship with Tony Pike and (his wife) Kim outside of school and band,” Rhodes posted on Facebook. “I got to know the real people that they were, and they were great people! I got to go many places and share a lot of good times with them, and I will never forget their friendship. RIP Tony Pike. I know you are making music with the angels!”
By Thursday afternoon, almost 50 others had responded to Rhodes’ post, sharing their own memories of Pike, and wishing his family the best during their time of loss.
Former Opp High School principal Wayne “Buddy” Pyron said he had the opportunity to serve with Pike at OHS, adding it is no surprise that so many people have expressed feelings of loss following his passing.
“I was there when Tony came in 1985,” Pyron said. “I was the assistant principal then, and I became his principal in 1988.”
Pyron said Pike was a “well-liked” member of the community.
“He came to us from Straughn.” Pyron said. “He had been band director there for eight years. He was with us for eight years, and then he left us to go to Mobile in 1993.”
Even after a 20-year absence from Covington County, Pyron said the impact Pike made in the area is still evident today.
“Tony fit right in the mold here,” he said. “He did a great job for us. I really liked him, not just as a band director, but as a friend. He was just as jolly has old Saint Nick. He had such a good report with the kids and the parents.”
Pyron said Pike was also exceptional at his job.
“Tony was president of the Alabama Band Directors and held other various positions,” he said. “He left for Mobile right around the time his daughter was born. He was well-loved in Opp.”
Pyron said his most recent communication with Pike came through an email last year.
“He had to give up being the band director (in Mobile) because he was sick,” Pyron said. “I talked to him in an email this past year, when I found out (he was sick).”
Pyron said Pike didn’t let his health problems keep him from enjoying the time he had left, which he spent with his daughter and wife.
“When I found that out (about his health problems), that just really bombed me,” he said.
Pike’s daughter, Kristen, said her father passed away of congestive heart failure, adding he had traveled to both New Orleans and Birmingham for treatment during the summer of 2012.
“We tried to get him on the list for a heart transplant, but he was just too sick,” Kristen said.
In Mobile, students, friends and colleagues of Pike’s are also sharing their feelings on Facebook.
“One of the most loved and highly respected educators in all of Mobile is no longer with us,” Mobile resident John Colburn wrote Thursday in a Facebook post. “Literally hundreds, if not thousands, of his music students over many years have studied under Tony Pike, and they all loved him beyond measure. I would not be surprised at all if Mayor Sandy Stimpson thinks of a way to honor him. Wouldn’t that be great?”
Funeral services for Pike will be held Mon., Nov. 25, 2013, at Christ United Methodist Church in Mobile at 11 a.m. Visitation will be held from 9 until 11 a.m.
Pike’s family is asking that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Davidson High School band.