Helen M. PikeOctober 6, 2017 ~ October 11, 2017
Helen M. (LaFreniere) Pike, 101 years old, died on Oct. 11, 2017. She was born on Oct. 6, 1916 on Beaver Island to Nels and Sophia (Boyle) LaFreniere.
When just 16, Helen pursued her dream of college and becoming a teacher and traveled to the big world off-Island. She graduated from Nazareth College in Kalamazoo with a degree in teaching. Her very first job was at a two-room school house in Brutus, MI.
She married John D. Pike in 1940. Their first years together were spent on Beaver Island where the couple managed the King Strang Hotel. They moved to Montague, MI and there raised their four children. Helen taught at the Nellie B. Chisholm junior high school there for 33 years. Many of her former students have visited her on the Island, fondly remembering her Michigan History classes.
Following her retirement from teaching, Helen returned to her beloved Beaver Island. She was active in the Historical Society and the Beaver Island District Library, where she volunteered. She was a devoted member of Holy Cross Catholic Church. Her community involvements include spearheading the work for erecting the Island monument to those who lost their lives on Lake Michigan. She also headed up the “Millennium Party” on the Island which saw Islanders returning from all corners of the U.S. Her cabin on the Island, “Grandma’s Place,” was often the spot for family gatherings.
In her later years, Helen’s eyesight failed but she still enjoyed outings with the Island Red Hat Ladies and offering comfort to those ill or mourning with a gift of her famous banana bread. She was “Aunt Helen” to generations of Island relations and friends. All will miss her stories, spirited conversations and lively sense of humor.
Helen was preceded in death by her husband, two daughters lost in infancy (Michaelanne and Mary), all her brothers and sisters. Surviving Helen are her children: George Nelson (Judy) Pike, John David Jr. (Pat) Pike, Francis (Marijean) Pike and Elaine (Steve) West; grandchildren Matt (Vickie) Pike, Amy Cook, Carrie (Mike) Johnson, Laura (AJ) Muysenberg, Brent (Jennifer) Pike, Jared (Miranda) Pike, Gavin West and Grant (Mallory) West; nine great grandchildren: Ethan Cook; Andrew, Nora and Sophia Johnson; Aidan and Addison Pike, Liam and Harbor Pike and Harrison West; and many nephews, nieces and good friends.
Helen will be returning to the Island on the ferry boat on Friday, Oct. 13. Visitation at Holy Cross Church will be held Friday evening, starting at 6 p.m. with the rosary will be said at 7 p.m. A funeral mass will be said at Holy Cross at 11 a.m. on Sat., Oct. 14, Father Jim Siler officiating. Burial will follow at Holy Cross Cemetery and a luncheon will be held at the Hall. I lieu of flowers memorials may be made to: Holy Cross Church (P.O. Box 145) Beaver Island, MI 49782 or the Beaver Island Historical Society.
Arrangements are being handled by the Winchester Chapel of Mortensen Funeral Homes. Online guestbook at www.mortensenfuneralhomes.com.