On Thursday, July 22, unbeknownst to many, the corn fields shook and the soybean fields trembled from Flaherty to Wolf Creek, as a huge hole was ripped into the very fabric that constitutes Meade County’s long lived agriculture community. The Good Lord had called Edd Pike home from his earthly dwelling in Payneville at the age of 72. I am not qualified to speak of the void and pain his death dealt the Pike family, as I know it did, but I would like to speak a little about the void his death has left in the extended farm “family” of this county.
Long before Meade County was even Meade County, agriculture was and hopefully always will be the backbone of our land. When pioneers, such as Squire Boone, first laid claim to the lands that would eventually become Meade, the records show that one of the first things they established after shelter was agricultural to sustain the settlers. Since those early days, every generation has produced not just farmers but agriculture leaders, as well. Between my ‘Yesteryears’ column and other articles, names like Stith, Hamilton, and McGehee, just to name a few, stand out in the pages of Meade County Messengers from decades past that showcased men who were not just content with farming but wanted to defend and push Meade County agriculture to the next level for all farmers. Edd Pike was a modern day version of one of these men.
Being born and raised a member of our county’s ag family, I have come to understand that the biggest problem with not only our, but the greater American agriculture community, is the fact that farmers are superstars at what they do, but they are not very good at P.R. by nature. By no fault of their own, and I speak from prior experience, the default setting for most farmers is to end a long, hard day with a hot shower and a pillow because the next day is already waiting for them long before they lay their head down. Going out to meetings or doing public speaking for the cause just isn’t something that their day allows much priority for. Despite this fact, generation after generation has produced farmers who go against the grain in this regard. After changing out of their second pair of sweat drenched clothes for the day, they shower up; put on a third pair of pants and go off to promote agriculture in the little bit of free time they have. Edd Pike was one of these men.
It was thanks in part to him and a few others who founded the Lincoln Trail Power of the Past Tractor Club years ago that the first vehicle I ever bought was a John Deere 630 in late elementary school. I loved antique tractors, and with dad’s help and the money from selling my hog every year at the county fair, it was always my dream as a young farm boy to restore that Deere and take it to one of their shows. Edd served as president of this organization for 25 years.
In fact, it’s hard to find an element of agriculture in this county that Edd wasn’t a part of. Whether it was standing at the podium or working behind the curtain to promote or advance agriculture during the course of his life, his fingerprint looms large. He served on the board for the Meade County Extension Office, both treasurer and board member of the Meade County Cattlemen’s Association, a member of the Meade County Conservation District and a member of the Riverport Authority board which helped bring a grain elevator to Meade County when Consolidated Grain and Barge decided to build a facility right here so that farmers would no longer have to transport their grain by tractor trailers to Owensboro any more.
When I started writing for the paper a couple of years ago, I would only get a few weeks on the job before the story broke that CGB was leaving to make way for a steel mill. For the first time in my life, I was able to watch the farmers of this county put their work on hold, come together as one and stand up to the government as a united front instead of just going back to work and letting the politicians kick the can down the road. I wrote many articles covering the plight of the farmers. It was through attendance, covering those meetings, that I really got to know Edd. He was not a man that left you wondering where he stood on a matter, but he was a man that knew how to articulate an argument in a way that proved the opposition wrong long before they were offended by his opposition to their claim. He fought as hard as anyone, up until he couldn’t anymore, to ensure that Meade County farmers had access to those things which could best help them succeed, to the benefit of not just his family and their farm, but for all farm families across this great county.
One of the last great conversations that I had with him was totally unexpected. I walked into the Farm Bureau Building at the fair grounds to cover the annual farm toy show. I guess, looking back on it, I shouldn’t have been surprised that when I walked through the door there sat Edd beside Neil Dodson working the door. We talked casually; we compared notes with each other to see if anyone had information the other didn’t on any new developments in regards to the granary and most of all we shared admiration for each other for our roles in the whole ordeal. Edd Pike made no secret of his admiration for the Meade County Messenger and the writing I had been doing. I failed miserably, however, in letting him know just how much his encouraging words and support truly meant to this journalist, but I will always be humbled and thankful for his gold seal of approval.