Posted: Feb 04, 2019
Dr. Leonard Maxwell Pike peacefully passed away Saturday, January 12, 2019 in Acworth, Georgia. He was 78 years old.
Leonard was born at home on Shady Grove Road, February 1, 1940 in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He was preceded in death by his parents, Arliss Crampton Pike and Lela Coomer Pike, and his two brothers Earl and Marvin Pike.
He is survived by his wife Roxy; a sister Dorothy Selzer and his two children LeAnn and Gary. His family tree continues to grow with eleven grandchildren, one great granddaughter and many cousins, nieces, nephews, and extended family. Leonard married Roxy Ann Peters in August of 1959. This union was blessed with two children, Daughter, LeAnn Pike Dakake and Son, Gary Leonard Pike. Leonard and Roxy were married 59 years. They met in 8th grade and were high school sweethearts. No one in their families had ever attended college before but with the encouragement of two of their teachers, Mr. Stivers and Mrs. Stovall, they enrolled in Southern State College three days after they graduated from Lakeside High School. They attended Southern State College at Magnolia and The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and Leonard received both his BS and MS in Horticulture. Pike was accepted by Michigan State University, East Lansing Michigan, where he obtained his PhD in Horticulture. Then, Leonard and Roxy moved south to College Station, Texas where he was a Professor at Texas A&M University. They planted their roots there and called it home for nearly 50 years.
Leonard's professional career is best known for his work as a Texas A&M Research Scientist who developed the Texas 1015 Supersweet Onion and the Aggie Maroon Beta Sweet Carrot, Texas Gold Spike Carrot, Texas Early White Onion, Triple-Cross Cucumber and many other varieties of onions, carrots and cucumbers. These varieties contributed billions of dollars to the Texas economy and continue to be grown around the world under many variety names. Many onion-lovers unknowingly enjoy his onions at restaurants as "The Awesome Blossom" or "The Bloomin' Onion". He did collaborated research with M D Anderson Cancer scientists which involved increasing a naturally-occurring compound in onions that was documented to inhibit cancer cell growth in laboratory studies.
Leonard's dedication to teaching and mentoring graduate students and his research continues beyond his time on Earth as he has donated his body to medical science, so that even in death, he continues to teach others.
Leonard M. Pike was a good man who loved and was proud of his family and passionate about his chosen life's work.
He respected everyone, no matter who they were, where they lived and what they did to earn an honest living. He was recognized and appreciated by his peers, farmers, consumers and government officials around the world. President George H W Bush personally gave him a well-deserved international award for his work.
A Celebration of Leonard's Life will be at 1 p.m., Saturday, April 13 at Still Creek Ranch, 6055 Hearne Road. Bryan, TX. The Pike Family chose this location as both Leonard and Roxy were supporters of the ranch for children lacking family assistance.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Still Creek Ranch or towards the Leonard M.Pike, "Lead by Example" Endowed scholarship fund. Scholarships presented from this endowment assist students to follow in his footsteps in the field of Horticultural Science. https://www.txamfoundation.com/give.aspx follow: "I would like to give to:" Select – An Unlisted Account (Enter Manually. "Giving Account Name" Leonard M. Pike Endowed Scholarship