Burlyn Pike, longtime attorney, passes away

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By Thomas Barr

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - When John Schmidt graduated law school, Burlyn Pike was there to hire him at his Shepherdsville legal practice.

Schmidt, who began practicing law in 1981, could not have asked for a better mentor.

"He was a throwback lawyer," said Schmidt. "He was a real country lawyer."

On Wednesday, Pike died at Norton Suburban Hospital in Louisville at the age of 89.

For over 50 years, he practiced law before retiring in February 2004.

While he enjoyed history, photography and flying, Schmidt said it was being a lawyer that Pike most wanted to be known for.

"He viewed being a lawyer as a calling," said Schmidt. "The practice of law was more than making a living."

One of the biggest lessons Schmidt learned while working with Pike was his mentor's desire to help whoever walked into the office door - no matter their income level, no matter their problem.

"He treated everyone the same," said Schmidt, who is currently serving as master commissioner for the court system.

During his career, he had various business interests.

In 1959, Schmidt said Pike and law partner Athol Lee Taylor, who would later become the Bullitt Circuit Judge, helped to organize Bullitt Federal Savings and Loan.

What literally started out of a file cabinet in the law office grew into a major financial institution that was later purchased by First Federal Savings Bank.

He also owned several newspapers, including the Salt River Tiger (which was later purchased by The Pioneer News) and the Spencer Magnet in Taylorsville.

Pike was also an avid historian, including the writing of a book with Steve Masden about his native Lebanon Junction. Railroad Town: A Pictorial Look at Lebanon Junction continues to be a popular reference book in the community.

David Strange, director of the Bullitt County History Museum, credited Pike with being one of the people who value the county's past.

Strange said Pike had been working on a book about Henry Crist, a politician and pioneer in the county.

Attorney Thomas Givhan, who began practicing law shortly after Pike, said that the long-time lawyer liked to help special causes.

For example, he said Pike helped people who were being forced from their land when Fort Knox wanted to expand.

Pike's last public stand came when the fate of the courthouse was in danger.

While some wanted to demolish the century-old courthouse or maybe build the new facility out of downtown Shepherdsville, Pike was one of the most vocal opponents.

That included several trips to Frankfort to contest the plans to demolish the courthouse and move the judicial center to another location.

While Strange said Pike wasn't particularly pleased that a majority of the courthouse was demolished and rebuilt, he was pleased that the front portion was retained and now houses the history museum.

"He loved history," said Strange, who added his best memories of Pike was when he would just come into the museum and talk about the county's past.


Pike graduated from Lebanon Junction High School and received a law degree from the University of Louisville.

Admitted to the Kentucky Bar Association in 1944, he practiced in Bullitt County until his retirement in 2004.

A veteran of World War II, Pike served in England and France for three years.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Jewel and John Pike.

He is survived by wife, Joan; daughter, Burnell (Don) Esbenshade; son, David Pike; grandchildren, Matthew Lemme, Claire (Carlos Sulsona) Lemme, Joshua and Christopher Pike; and great-granddaughter, Maya Sulsona.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 5, at Highland Funeral Home on Taylorsville Road. Visitation was from 5-8 p.m. on Friday.