Doris C. Pike, a homemaker who embarked on a diligent search for her family history and helped establish the first public genealogy library in Sacramento County, died March 24 of colon cancer complications, her family said. She was 95.
Long before personal computers and online databases, Mrs. Pike began the laborious task of researching her genealogy. The idea came to her while caring for her ill husband in 1969.
“I think she was feeling her own mortality,” her son Gary said. “She started asking, ‘What is my history? Before I go, I want to know where I came from.’”
All Mrs. Pike knew about her family was that her paternal grandfather, William Parker, arrived in Clovis from Tennessee in 1875. She ordered microfiche records from the Mormon Church, which has one of the world’s most extensive genealogy libraries in Salt Lake City.
She scoured census lists, passenger manifests, county history books and birth, marriage and death records. She traveled to ancestral towns in the United States and Northern Europe to comb through parish records and study tombstones in graveyards.
She traced her roots back to 1390 in England, where the Parkers of Harrockford were keepers of deer in a royal park – hence the family name – in West Riding of Yorkshire. They arrived in America and settled in Virginia in 1654.
Mrs. Pike belonged to the Sacramento Genealogical Society – Root Cellar and the Genealogical Association of Sacramento. In 1982, the groups persuaded the Sacramento Public Library Commission to allocate a room at the Carmichael branch for a genealogy reference library. Volunteers painted the room, purchased and set up shelves and stocked the collection with reference books.
Mrs. Pike spent almost 25 years as a library volunteer, buying research materials and repairing and rebinding books. She showed visitors how to research their histories and helped many apply for membership to Daughters of the American Revolution and other prominent genealogical groups.
“She was very good at that,” said Sammie Hudgens of the Sacramento Genealogical Society – Root Cellar. “She was very kind and very helpful.”
In 1995, the public genealogical collection was moved to the California State Archives Building in downtown Sacramento. Mrs. Pike’s family plans to donate the bulk of her personal genealogical materials to the library. Besides local genealogical groups and the DAR, she belonged to Colonial Dames, Daughters of the Confederacy and the National Society of Dames and Barons of the Magna Carta.
The daughter of a surgeon and a nurse, Doris Charmion Parker was born March 26, 1918, in Los Angeles. She graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1936 and attended USC, UCLA and California State University, Sacramento.
She married Leslie Harold Pike in 1940 and had two children. Her husband, who retired as chief of manufacture and repair at McClellan Air Force Base, died in 1974.
A longtime Arden Arcade resident, Mrs. Pike enjoyed hiking, camping, snow skiing, boating, and family vacations. When her children or other relatives traveled on their own, she instructed them on libraries, cemeteries and other places to search out the family history.
“I don’t know how many thousands of hours she put into it, but it was her passion,” her son said. “It kept her young.”
In addition to her son, Mrs. Pike is survived by her daughter Susan Moffett, one granddaughter and two great-granddaughters.
A celebration of her life is set for 11 a.m. today at Northminster Presbyterian Church, 3235 Pope Ave., Sacramento. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Shriners Hospitals for Children Northern California, attn: Donations – Alan Anderson, 2425 Stockton Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95817.
Call The Bee’s Robert D. Dávila, (916) 321-1077. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Davila.