More than 50 years after he packed up his family and left Del Norte County, CW Bud Pyke is still connected to Crescent City.
Pyke's contribution to Del Norte High School sports was captured by Dick Trone, who wrote in a February 2015 installment of Warrior Memories that though the 1947 graduate was "not real big," he was a threat on the basketball court, the baseball diamond and on the track. In his Triplicate column, Trone called Pyke one of his heroes.
"When the Warriors brought back 11-man football in Bud's junior year, he immediately became the team's starting quarterback," Trone wrote. "Playing for coach Phil Crawford who was only here for one year, the Warriors were not really successful win-wise, but they were exciting to watch."
Pyke was involved in a myriad of other activities from class president his freshman and junior years to star in the senior class play. But Bud Pyke and his family, headed by Vaughn Pyke, are probably more famous in Del Norte County history for their actions during a tsunami on March 27, 1964.
Bud Pyke died at his residence, the Retsil Veterans Home in Port Orchard, Washington, on March 15, 2019, according to his daughter Pamela Pyke Gordon. He would have been 90 on March 27, the 55th anniversary of 1964 tidal wave
Gordon said Trone's column primarily focused on her father's high school days, but he also served in the U.S. Navy from 1948 to 1950, was president of the local Rotary Club and played city baseball back in the 1950s.
"He met my mom in Downtown Seattle at a dance hall," Gordon said. "And had four children, and his father built Pyke Field in Crescent City and there's a big plaque."
Bud's father, Vaughn, had opened the Ben Franklin store on 2nd Street where it lasted until it moved to a new location on 3rd Street in Downtown Crescent City just six weeks before the 1964 Good Friday tsunami, Gordon said.
At that point, Gordon's aunt and uncle Ernie and Betty Pyke operated the Ben Franklin, which carried everything from axes to candy.
"In those days the Ben Franklin store was like a Walmart," Gordon said. "You had everything — goldfish, lawnmowers, school clothes. We didn't sell large appliances, but we had everything."
Bud Pyke owned Betty Bright Dry Cleaners across the street from the Ben Franklin store, Gordon said. She said their home was also one of the first that was built on Hiouchi Flat.
Bud Pyke had just returned to his Hiouchi Flat home on the evening of March 27, 1964 when he found out that the Ben Franklin store was surrounded by water. He hopped in his Jeep and drove back to town to find his brother and nephews inside the store holding onto the glass windows, Gordon said.
When the second surge hit, a propane tank broke through, prompting Bud and Ernie Pyke and Gordon's aunt Mary Lou Vashaw to retreat up the stairs to the stockroom.
"Now they're all trapped in the stockroom with a leaking propane tank in the store," Gordon said. "My dad immediately said we got to get out on top of the roof and all there was was a vent. So he took one of the axes, 'cause we sold everything in that store, and he started hewing out the side of that wall to get up on top of the roof so they could not die. About that time the water started to recede and my uncle Ernie was screaming, 'the water's going out!' It went out and they all made a run for it out the back door and of course, all the cars that were parked in back were gone, including my dad's brand new Jeep."
Gordon said her dad was delivered home at about 6 o'clock the morning of March 28 where his wife was waiting for him.
"She says "I'm so glad there's no damage,'" Gordon said. "And I can hear these words to this day: 'No damage? We are wiped out. There's nothing left.'"
Since the Ben Franklin store had "act of nature" insurance it reopened in September 1964, Gordon said. But her father's business, Betty Bright Dry Cleaners, wasn't so lucky. The store's insurance had covered the loss of the clothing that belonged to Bud Pyke's customers, Gordon said. But not the store itself.
When March 28, 1964 dawned, Gordon said her father found the dry cleaners' conveyor belt had wrapped itself around a redwood log that was about 4-feet in diameter.
"It was really a disaster to our family," she said of the loss of her father's business. "After that we had to sell everything. We left town and never went back except to visit."
Bud Pyke took his family to Edmonds, Washington in 1967, Gordon said. She said they moved about every year until roughly 1970 when her father earned his real estate license and became a commercial real estate broker. The Pyke family lived in Bellevue, Washington until 1999 when her mother died.
In a Facebook post, Gordon described Bud Pyke as the ultimate optimist.
"He even thought his body would be in well enough shape to be useful after his passing," she said, "so he donated his whole body to UW MedCure for use in research. He always wanted to do things his way."
Bud Pyke was preceded by his sons Bob Pyke and Don Pyke.
Bud Pyke is survived by Pamela Pyke Gordon and her husband Rick; his son Mark Pyke and by his daughters-in-law Marlys Pyke, of Puyallup, Washington, and Mary Pyke, of Salt Lake City.
Bud Pyke also left behind several grandchildren and great grandchildren, Bart Gordon, of Olympia, Washington, Brett Gordon, of Kona Hawaii, Tisha and Bill Duggan, of Mystic, Connecticut, Allyson, of Puyallup, Washington; Rob Pyke, William Pyke and Sean Pyke, all of Salt Lake City, Dorothy Pyke, of Salt Lake City, and Kaylee Dugan, of Mystic, Connecticut.
Reach Jessica Cejnar at email@example.com .