Thomas P. Pike Hailed as a Hero; Field Pays Final Tribute to a "Giant"

Article excerpt

The field of alcoholism has lost one of its best. Thomas P. Pike, a tireless advocate for those suffering from alcoholism and other drug addictions died on August 3, 1993 at the age of 83 in a Southern California hospital.

An industrialist who founded California's largest oil drilling contracting firm, Pike rose to political prominence as assistant Defense Department secretary under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. But it was fighting the early battles to educate people about the disease of alcoholism for which he will will be most remembered. Tom Pike taught by example, openly talking about his personal recovery of 47 years. He worked side-by-side with Bill Wilson, founder of Alcoholics Anonymous and Marty Mann, founder of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD).

Tom Pike, along with his wife Katherine, teamed up to carry the message of hope to hundreds of thousands of people in all walks of life. His numerous contributions to the field include founding the NCADD Affiliates in Los Angeles and Pasadena. He also co-founded the Bishop Gooden Home, a recovery home for men, and Casa de las Amigas for women alcoholics, and served on the first California State Alcoholism Advisory Board.

He may best be remembered, however, for his tireless efforts to help secure passage of the historic legislation establishing the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in 1970. Former Senator Harold Hughes (D-IA) who sponsored the legislation was deeply saddened at the passing of Mr. Pike. "He was one of the greatest people I've ever met in the field of alcoholism and addictions," said Hughes. "In the late 1960's Tom Pike, Brinkley Smithers and I came together in the old International Congress on Alcoholism. He helped me do a lot of my baseline thinking that helped initiate the setting up of the first subcommittee in the Senate of the United States. I look at Tom as a part of the inner committee of committed people that resulted in changing the national law and the thrust of this nation in the field of alcoholism and addictions. We lost a friend, we lost a wonderful man, we lost a giant who left footprints that no one will ever fill."

Once the Hughes legislation was passed and signed by President Nixon, Tom made sure that the momentum would continue. "One of my first memories of Tom was at the White House press office," said Jay Lewis, founder of the Alcoholism Report. "It was in 1974 when the first reauthorization of the Hughes Act came up, and it was a little bit nip and tuck as to whether or not Nixon was going to sign it." Tom Pike was finally able to help convince the President to sign the reauthorization. "He sure understood what was going on in DC," said Lewis. "It's a great loss."

Enoch Gordis, M.D., who now heads up the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), paid tribute to the many accomplishments of Tom Pike. "His service to the Institute and to the alcohol field over the years helped to focus national attention on the disease of alcoholism and its tremendous impact on our society. His critical role in helping to get the legislation creating NIAAA signed into law, his tenure on the first National Advisory Committee on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and his later role with the Secretary's Task Force on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism -- which helped the Department of Health and Human Services to formulate its national strategy to combat alcohol abuse and alcoholism -- were imbued with his positive message that recovery from this disease is possible. Tom's tireless energies on behalf of alcoholics and their families will be greatly missed, not only by those of us who have worked in the alcohol field over the years, but by the many individuals who still suffer from the disease of alcoholism."

"He was a dedicated volunteer, closest to his heart was his work to improve county, state and federal resources for treatment of alcoholics," said Susan B. …