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TAKING ROOT: Longtime nursery owner opens museum
by Noreen Cochran
November 05, 2013 07:15 PM | 3426 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Katherine Frye / 
Pete Pike works on planting Swiss chard and pansies in his back yard last week.
Staff / Katherine Frye / Pete Pike works on planting Swiss chard and pansies in his back yard last week.
October was a busy month for Stone Mountain resident William L. “Pete” Pike, founder of the Pike Family Nurseries chain which opened its first store in Marietta in 1959.

The city of Snellville proclaimed Oct. 28 as Pete Pike Day following the Oct. 19 opening of the Pete Pike Museum in that city’s Family Tree Garden Center.

“The moral of the museum is to show young people if you’re down, you don’t have to stay there,” said Pike, who endured backbreaking farm work and being fired from a cotton mill before entering the horticulture industry.

“The only thing that overcomes hard luck is hard work.”

True to the hard-working 84-year-old’s long record of charitable giving, the grand opening also was a benefit for the Alzheimer’s Association.

“I’m a giver rather than a receiver. I enjoy giving to people,” Pike said.

The Hoganville native said he has much in common with friend and fellow philanthropist, Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy.

“We have a lot of common sense, we’re country boys and we know a lot of smart people,” Pike said.

Some of them are his sons Gary, Randy and Tony and daughter Dana, who owns the Snellville store, where Pike is now a consultant.

“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” Pike said. “She’s doing a great job.”

It may be due to his advice.

“To be successful, this is what you do,” Pike said. “Don’t ever let your daddy hear you say, ‘I did.’ It’s ‘we.’ Without the employers and customers, it wouldn’t be anything.

“If it weren’t for my friends and customers, I’d still be behind a mule.”

Above all, Pike credits his wife of 60 years, Geraldine “Jerri” Coleman Pike, for whom a garden is devoted at the Snellville store.

“Behind every successful man is a successful woman,” he said. “Without my wife, there would be no Pike Nurseries.”

Mrs. Pike, for her part, said she liked helping the business grow.

“I’ve enjoyed it. It’s never a dull moment,” she said.

That enjoyment comes through to customers like Emma Flagg of Grayson.

“You walk in here and your heart feels so warm,” she said about the Snellville store, where displays of country décor rival its rows of trees and flowers. “It reminds me of when I younger, we owned a farm.”

The sentiment reflects Pike’s own roots.

“I never forgot where I came from and I never will,” he said.

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