Obituary: Claire S. Pike, 93

Thu, 12/29/2011 - 1:53pm

Claire S. (Slate) Pike, 93, of High Street, passed away Tuesday, Dec. 27, at South Kingstown Nursing and Rehabilitation. She was a spirited island daughter whose life was marked by her unflagging interest in the people around her.

A true lifelong Block Islander, she was born May 24, 1918, in the Bridgegate House on Bridgegate Square to the late Frederick A. and Gladys D. (Dodge) Slate. She descended from a long line of island fishermen, beginning with original settler Trustrum Dodge. Her maternal grandfather, Winfield Dodge, and great-grandfather, Andrew Dodge, were both island fishermen, as was her father, who came to the island from New London.

Claire graduated in the 1935 class of the Block Island School, along with classmates Kathryn Champlin, Aline Cyr, Virginia Rose and Thelma Tinker. She met her husband, Harold S. Pike, when she was waitressing at Ballards and he came into port on a fishing boat from Stonington, Conn. For a time Harold fished out of Point Judith and the family spent winters in Narragansett, and summers on the island. During that period, Claire spent many afternoons visiting with older island people in the area’s nursing homes, listening to their stories and just making sure they were taken care of and had someone to talk to.

Feisty and colorful, Claire was full of island lore herself and would sit and talk for hours with anyone. “She collected people the way others collect things,” said her son Norris.

After working at the Gables for Millie Dodge, Claire opened her own guesthouse, The Driftwood on Ocean Avenue (now The Dewey Cottage), around 1955. After her mother died, she renovated her house on High Street, and then opened it as a guesthouse, The Driftwind, as well. Her guest houses were always full, and she had trouble charging people anything, said Norris. They were all “her friends.” As recently as a few years ago, she insisted that if rooms were let for more than $30 or so a night, “People will stop coming to the island.”

Harold S. Pike died 26 years ago, almost to the day, on December 26, 1985. Claire looked to her “group of gals,” said Norris, among them Vera Sprague, Margaret Milliken, and Kathryn Champlin, for support.

Claire was a member of the Harbor Church, Order of the Eastern Star, Ladies Auxiliary, Post 36 of the American Legion and the Daughters of the American Revolution.

She leaves two sons, Frederick Pike of Middletown and F. Norris Pike of Block Island; a brother, Merrill Slate of Block Island; three grandchildren, Harold Pike in Connecticut, Lily Pike of Providence and Melissa Pike of Middletown; and a great grandson, Noah. She was the sister of the late Albion Slate.

Her funeral service will be held Saturday, Dec. 31, at 1 pm in the Harbor Baptist Church, Water Street, Block Island. Interment will follow in Island Cemetery. Visiting hours are respectfully omitted. In lieu of flowers, contributions to Harbor Baptist Church or Block Island Historical Society in her memory would be appreciated. For information and condolences, please visit