Cliff Hill

Final farewell to Gerry Pike

April 29, 2010 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF HILL along with NANCY FAHNER-HILL Gerry Pike lived more in the last 10 years of his life than many do in their entire lifetimes. I first met Gerald Pike in the spring of 2000. Having recently purchased a new condo in the Rockford Hills Condominium community, I was outside one afternoon washing my pickup truck when a bespectacled old-timer with the biggest of smiles on his face approached me. I was about to be introduced to my next-door neighbor who shook my hand with an iron grip and said, “Howdy, neighbor. My name is Gerry Pike. I’m 90 years old and I just bought a new car! What do you think of that?” Perhaps seeking affirmation for what he had just done, I said to him, “I think that’s great.” With just those few words spoken between us, we became the very best of friends. Gerry passed away last Wednesday evening, just over five months short of his 100th birthday. In the 10 years of our friendship, I learned much of a storied life about which a book could surely be written. Time and space in this newspaper will not allow me to do so, but I can open a 10-year window and give a glimpse of a man who was the very best of men. Gerry loved the Lord, his wife Dorotha (who he sometimes described as a “real fire-cracker”), his country (every day displaying the American flag from his deck), and people. Gerry loved people and they loved him. He never had a bad word to say about anyone or anything. He was small in stature, but had a heart as big as the world, along with being one of the most generous and giving of people. In 1988, Gerry and Dorotha sold the family farm in Trufant and retired to a new life and a new condo on Rockford’s east side. Seventy-eight years old at the time and a farmer at heart who loved the out-of-doors, he quickly determined that he would keep himself busy on a daily basis (except Sunday) by picking up accumulated roadside trash—including each and every cigarette butt—along Courtland Drive NE between 10 Mile and 11 Mile roads. That particular roadway was at the front door […]

Don’t talk to strangers, just look

October 1, 2009 // 0 Comments

Kevin Tomasunas, 19 months, doesn’t know what to make of OPUS Mime (Michael Lee). Keeping a safe distance, he must surely be thinking, “Are you for real?” On the first Saturday of Harvest Fest, Kevin stood transfixed for 20 minutes while deciding to come a little closer to the mime extraordinaire or turn and run away as fast as his little legs would carry him. As it turned out, he never moved. More Harvest Festival fun is coming, see inside. photo by CLIFF HILL

Annual run, picnic and auction draws record runners, breaks fundraising best

August 20, 2009 // 0 Comments

  “It was a banner year,” Sandy Peterson said of the 2009 Mitchell’s Run Thru Rockford. In its eleventh year the annual event blew away last year’s top number of runners and walkers with an increase of about 400 to a best-ever 1,800 participating. The total amount raised for Project Parent Muscular Dystrophy was another record-breaker at $77,000. “I’m flabbergasted,” Peterson said of the total, especially in a year when so many charities are hurting from lower donations. Volley for Mitchell the week before raised $8,000, the picnic raised $1,000, two major donors, Meijer and Wolverine contributed to the total by covering race costs, a silent auction raised $8,000 and just plain gift donations came to an amazing ten grand. “It is a really great charity. People seem to have taken a hold of this cause and our son, and been very generous,” Peterson said. Late registration was huge with about 600 people signing up the morning of the event, and the action in town kept the organization’s 140-plus volunteers busy. “There was a lot of energy in downtown Rockford that day, that’s for sure,” Peterson commented. To date the event has donated more than $600,000 to Project Parent MD. “They are really making some great strides in finding a cure for this disease,” said Peterson. “I hope people will know that.”

1 2 3 4