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Ford “Pike” Stewart - 12.30.20 (NC)


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Mr. Ford Martin "Pike" Stewart, 88, of Mooresville, departed this life Monday, Nov, 23, 2020, at his residence.

"Pike," as he was called, was the proud owner of "Pike's BP" Service Station, in Mooresville, for 52 years.




Daniel Johnson of Ultimate Towing said he’s hoping to have a tow truck tribute to Pike at the service and is asking all tow truck drivers to join him.



Hardworking, loyal, dedicated, genuine and true friend are just a few of the words that describe Ford Martin Stewart, otherwise known as “Pike” to his friends, by some who can lay claim to calling him friend for decades.


Pike, 88, who was a mainstay at his North Broad Street business, died on Monday, Nov. 23. Pike opened his business, Pike’s Gulf, in 1969.


Jeff Shoe said that he remembers the station being there “as far back as I can remember. I can remember going when I was in high school and buying gas for 25 cents.”


Having been in business for more than 60 years owning a gas station and wrecker service, Pike had more than just customers show up at his station, they were his friends.


“Mr. Pike always greeted his customers like friends,” said Kim Saragoni, friend and fellow downtown business owner.

And Pike not only counted them as friends, but he remembered his customers during both good and difficult times as noted by longtime friend Frank Owens.


“He would give his regular customers a box of chocolate covered cherries at Christmas,” Owens said, “and when a family member of one of his regular customers died, he would put out a jar for a love offering.”


It was that care and willingness to help others that stood out as stories were shared upon learning of his passing.


In addition to providing for his customers at various times, Owens told the story of when he was young, just 14 or 15, when Pike was working at Jay’s Service Station, the current BB&T on Main Street. At that time, Pike was washing cars and Owens was also working there helping Pike, and through their working together, they got to know one another.

Owens noted that his family didn’t have a car then, and the time came for him to take his driver’s exam. It was Pike who loaned him his 1955 Pontiac convertible to go and take the exam.


“I drove his car to the examiners with the top down,” Owens said.


Both Shoe and longtime Mooresville resident Chris Montgomery, who had previously written a feature story about Pike, noted how he would help young people and give them a job at the station, mentoring and teaching them.


Just as he taught the young people to work hard, he followed his own advice. Pike was dedicated and made sure he did his job well.


“He was a really hardworking, dedicated man that we had respect for,” Shoe noted.


"He showed up every day and hit it all day long. And drove that wrecker,” continued Shoe. “We have nothing but good things to say about Pike.”


Another longtime friend, Cotton Ketchie, recalled when he was working at City Grocery and Market on Main Street during his junior high school days, and he delivered groceries to the Stewart home.


“It seems as if I have known Pike and his wonderful family almost all of my life,” Ketchie said. “Sometimes, Bessie would send Pike to the store to get the groceries for her and he was always in a big hurry to get back to work. Pike was somewhat like me when it came to his place of business, he hardly knew what to do when he wasn’t there.”


“When one had their vehicle washed at Pike’s,” Ketchie said, “they could depend on it being washed and every detail being spotless.”


Mayor Miles Atkins shared his memory of how “Pike Stewart was highly regarded as a successful businessman leading by example, always ready with a kind word and a willingness to help that never ceased.”


Just as he offered help to his friends, Pike had the same attitude in his career with service and care being offered at the station from pumping the gas to checking the oil.


Saragoni mentioned how a gas station offering full service treatment was something she wasn’t accustomed too until arriving here and visiting Pike's.


“My grandmother, who is 99 years old, has never pumped gas in her entire life,” Saragoni said, “and I found it novel when I moved to Mooresville that Pike's offered full service! When she would visit I always took her as Pike filled my tank!


“She always pulled a few more dollars out of her purse to add to my tip for him.


I paid extra for “ethanol free” fuel so I could visit with Mr. Pike. He will be missed,” she said.


And if it wasn’t Pike himself, it was his daughter, Rhonda, who would help the customers. Montgomery noted that Rhonda “helps with the day-to-day operations; she even pumps customers’ gas, something you won’t see at too many other places.


Rhonda also told “they were the only of a few in town who sold ethanol, one hundred percent pure gasoline. “And, Montgomery said, “when taking the time to interact with the Stewarts, one will discover they are just as genuine as the product they pump.”


Owens noted that Pike’s BP was the “last full-fledged service station that washed windows and checked your oil.”

Ketchie mentioned that “Pike’s was also about the only station in town where one could drive up to the pumps and get gas without even getting out of their vehicle. Pike would be there almost before your wheels would stop rolling and ask, ‘Fill it up?’”


“Pike,” Owens noted, “was a good man. He didn’t care about the color of your skin. Everybody that came in, he thanked them for their business, and he tipped his hat to the ladies. He didn’t care if you were rich or poor, he treated everybody the same.”


Owens said that Pike was probably “one of the best longtime friends I’ve ever had in my life.” And in all of the 60 years they had known each other, there wasn’t a week they didn’t talk.


Atkins said that Pike “will be remembered as a legend in our downtown,” said Mayor Atkins, “and the Town of Mooresville will never be the same without Pike's friendly wave from the corner of North Broad Street and Moore Avenue.”



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