Tom Piker passed away on January 15, 2020 with his family at his side. He is preceded in death by his parents, John Andrew Piker and Mary Gertrude Yingling; sister, Mary Ann Reighard (“Honey”) and brother-in-law Donald; half-brother, James Clark ; and half-sister, Dorothy Podalak.
Loving husband, Tom leaves behind his wife of 53 years, formerly Irene Stanislawczyk, and three children, Deborah (Erik) Piker Sanders in San José, California; Melissa (Joseph) Mocker in Sunnyvale, California; and Scott (Ruth) Piker in Westminster, California. He adored his four grandchildren, Nicolas and Eliana Piker, and Astrid and Hendrix Mocker, and several grandpups, including Tanner and Dash.
He is survived by his sister Shirley (Ronald) Meredith of Conemaugh, Pennsylvania, nephew Shawn (Corrie) Meredith and niece Kristie (Andrew) Gunsallus in Pennsylvania, niece Donna Jean (Keith) Dick in Ohio, nephews Tom (Mary Jo) Reighard and Rob (Brenda) Reighard in Pennsylvania, and niece Michelle (Robert) Margetan in Pennsylvania, and numerous great nieces and nephews.
Born and raised in Conemaugh, Pennsylvania, Tom graduated from East Conemaugh High School in 1959 (go Iron Horses!) and loved telling stories about working at the bowling alley setting pins, eating at Tops Grab N Go and Coney Island, and pushing his car downhill to get it started with friends Bernie and Fesko. After high school, he attended Potomic State College where he received an AA in Engineering while installing telephone poles for the Johnstown telephone company.
In 1962, Tom enlisted in the United States Air Force and attended the University of Arizona where he received a Bachelor Science in Aerospace Engineering and attained the rank of Staff Sergeant. He was selected to attend the Air Force Institute of Technology in Ohio, graduating with a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering. In 1969, he was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force and returned to Conemaugh to marry Irene Stanislawczyk. They packed up the car and drove across country to Inglewood, California, where he was stationed at Los Angeles Air Force Station.
They had their first daughter, Debbie, in California. He was reassigned to Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, where Melissa was born. Later stationed in the Air Force Satellite Control Facility (the “Blue Cube”) at Onizuga Air Force Base in Sunnyvale, California, he began a long career working on special projects for the Secretary of the Air Force. Scott was born in San José and the Piker family was complete, living across the street from in-laws Sandy and Joe Stanislawczyk (Michael (Pat) Stanislawczyk and Kara (Justin) Hayes). In 1974, the USAF had the family moving to Aurora, Colorado where he was stationed at the Aerospace Data Facility at Buckley Air National Guard Base, then back to the Blue Cube in San José, CA in 1977. After 20 years, Major Tom retired from the US Air Force and continued to work in the aerospace field as a civilian at Lockheed in Sunnyvale CA, Aurora CO, and Maryland.
In all the years in the Air Force and Lockheed, the family always wondered what the special operations were – and laughed at the code words he used on the phone. “Satellites” or “nothing that exciting” he would say, chuckling at our inquisitions. We are very proud of his patriotic and significant contribution to defending the United States of America.
While at Lockheed, Tom and Irene moved back and forth from Maryland to San José; ultimately, settling down in Parker, Colorado where he retired from Lockheed. After about 15 years, they ‘retired from retirement’ to Mesa, Arizona with Sandy and Joe Stanislawczyk. After college, the kids married and stayed in California. Now with grandkids, the extended family enjoys spending vacations and holidays visiting Baba and Pap in Mesa.
With all the moves, he remains a life-long Pittsburgh Steelers fan, and along the way, picked up the 49ers, Broncos, and Cardinals. He now prefers Big Ten college football, especially Penn State.
He will be greatly missed. He was an extremely generous man to his family and several charitable organizations, an amazing father/father-in-law, outstanding grandfather, loving husband, kind brother/brother-in-law, and fun uncle to many nieces and nephews in the Piker and Stanislawczyk families who will tell you an Uncle Tom joke. By the way, what IS the difference between a duck?
Dad’s favorite charitable organizations include:
- Disabled American Veterans
- Paralyzed Veterans of America
- Little Sisters of the Poor, Denver CO
- St. Vincent de Paul Society All Saints Conference, Mesa AZ
Visitation will be Tuesday, January 21, 2020 from 4:00 – 6:00 PM at Mountain View Funeral Home & Cemetery, Mesa, Arizona.
On Wednesday, January 22, 2020 from 11:00 AM – 11:30 AM, a military burial will be held at National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona, 23029 North Cave Creek Road, Phoenix, Arizona.