ST. GEORGE — One of the best memories Mayor Jon Pike has about his mother is the time she pulled her car away from the gas pump without putting the nozzle away, causing the hose to break off and drag along the road behind her.
“The gas station attendant was chasing after her and she had no idea,” Pike said. “That was a story that our family talked about for years. She got teased about it mercilessly and yet she just laughed about it.”
Her good sense of humor, constant positivity, happy approach to life and “contagious” smile are some of the things Pike said he misses most about his mother, Ellan Jeanne Pike. She died nearly 14 years ago from leukemia, but Pike said he remembers her by telling his family stories about her and keeping a picture of her on his desk.
Before he became a mayor, Pike grew up in Millcreek, near Salt Lake City. His mother instilled in him a strong work ethic by having him do jobs every day. She was a school teacher, but later became a full-time mom to support her children. Pike was the oldest of six kids.
As a boy, he said his mother required him to do chores like practicing piano every day for 90-120 minutes, cleaning bathrooms, mowing the lawn and washing dishes.
“She taught me how to work,” Pike said. “That’s how I feel like I can do what I do now. I’m working two jobs; being the mayor of St. George is a very busy part-time job, and I have another full-time job. She definitely taught me how to work hard and not to be scared of it.”
Pike said he knows how to spend quality time with his family, but because of the things his mother taught him, work always came first and always will.
She had an “enormous effect on my life in every way,” Pike said, adding that he was the type of child who was proud to be with his mom all the time.
“We did everything together. I feel like we had tons and tons of time together with my mom and my dad, but my mom in particular.”
Ellan Pike was also a very kind person who always encouraged her children to be kind to others, he said. Over a decade ago, despite dying of leukemia, she was still an “upbeat, positive and kind person.”
“Even when she was having her last day or two, she kept saying how happy she was, how fortunate she was, how blessed she was,” Pike said. “And that probably had the biggest impact on me. Here she is, dying from leukemia at not an old age — she was only 63 — and she’s feeling so blessed. She would always encourage us to be the same way.”
His mother always placed a high priority on being kind to others, and there was never an excuse to bully or belittle others, he said. Above anything else, it was his mother’s hope that he would always be kind to others.
While Pike will remember his mother for the fun stories like the time she accidentally called a 7-Eleven’s Big Gulp soda a “Big Burp,” he will also remember her for the profound influence she had on his life.
“On Mother’s Day, I guarantee you we’ll spend a little bit of time talking about all the mothers in our lives: my wife, my mother-in-law and my mom,” Jon Pike said. “I’ll talk with my kids and I’ll tell them a few things about grandma.”
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