Biography of Mrs. Bernice S. Pyke
Cuyahoga County, OH Biographies

MRS. BERNICE SECREST PYKE, of Lakewood, whose ability, poise and gracious personality have given her prominence and influence in the social, political and civic affairs, is one whose activities have been so directed as to prove the distinct value of women in the domain of public affairs. With the democratic party in Ohio she holds a position similar to that held in the republican party by Mrs. Harriet Taylor Upton, of Warren, and as an ardent and resourceful exponent of the cause of woman suffrage her active service was initiated at an earlier date than was that of Mrs. Upton, who likewise is making a record of splendid service.

Mrs. Pyke was born at Frankfort, Ross County, Ohio, and is a representative of one of the sterling pioneer families of the Buckeye State. Her father, the late Samuel Frederick Secrest, was born at Hartford, Guernsey County, Ohio, in 1846, and his father, John Secrest, was an infant at the time the family came to Ohio from Winchester, Virginia, and made settlement in Guernsey County. The original representative of the Secrest family in America came from Germany to this country prior to the War of the Revolution, in which the family, gave patriot soldiers to the Continental forces. It is worthy of mention also that members of the Secrest family served as soldiers in both the Union and Confederate armies in the Civil war. In his earlier life Samuel F. Secrest was a successful teacher in the public schools of Ohio, and served as a high school superintendent For forty years prior to his death he was engaged in the retail hardware business in the historic old Ohio City of Chillicothe, the judicial center of Ross County, and the first capitol of Ohio, but his death occurred at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Pyke, in Cleveland, where he passed away in the year 1919. Mr. Secrest was a man of sterling character and broad intellectual ken, and his was a benignant influence in connection with community affairs and the directing of public policies. He was an ardent advocate of temperance, and never abated his deep interest in educational affairs. He was an eloquent and forceful public speaker, and in this connection his services were much in demand. He gave a long period of effective service as a member of the Board of Education at Chillicothe, and held the office of president of the board for a number of years. His wife, whose maiden name was Mary Jane Miller, was born at Frankfort, Ross County, December 25, 1846, a daughter of Isaac Miller, who was born at Winchester, Virginia, of Holland Dutch ancestry. Mrs. Secrest still survives her honored husband, and is now one of the venerable native daughters of Ohio.

In the public schools of Chillicothe Mrs. Pyke continued her studies until her graduation from the high school, as a member of the class of 1898, and for three years thereafter she was a student in the Ohio Wesleyan University, at Delaware. In 1902 she was graduated from Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, from which institution she received the degree of Bachelor of Arts. Thereafter she gave effective service as teacher of mathematics in the high school at Tuscola, Illinois, and also in that of her old home City of Chillicothe. In 1906 was solemnized her marriage to Arthur B Pyke, who was born in China, where his parents, Rev. James H. and Belle (Goodrich) Pyke, have been missionaries of the Methodist Episcopal Church continuously since shortly after their marriage. Arthur B. Pyke was graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University, and after leaving college he became associated with a carbon manufacturing enterprise at Kokomo, Indiana. Later he joined the organization of the National Carbon Company at Cleveland, with which he continued his alliance until 1918, since which year he has been successfully engaged in the real estate business in the Cleveland metropolitan field. Mr. and Mrs. Pyke have one son, John Secrest Pyke, who was born December 31, 1906. He graduated from Lakewood High School as valedictorian of the class of 1923, and is now a student in Ohio Wesleyan University, class of '27.

Mrs. Pyke is a member of the Lakewood Board of Education, to which she was elected first in 1918. As a speaker for the National League of Woman Voters she travels extensively and is doing splendid work. She has the distinction of being the only woman from Ohio to have membership in the national democratic committee, and as a delegate to the democratic national convention of 1920 she was the first woman to be thus honored in the annals of American history, with the result that her appearance in the convention attracted much attention and led to the publication of her portrait and biography in many of the leading newspapers of the United States, as well as in numerous papers abroad. At the national convention to which she was thus a delegate she had charge of the woman's work in advancing the interests of Governor Cox of Ohio, who was chosen as the candidate for the presidency. Mrs. Pyke was an unsuccessful candidate for the office of mayor of Lakewood in 1921, making a brilliant campaign, as did she also for the position of democratic nominee for the Ohio State Senate in 1923. She was chairman of the literature committee of the Ohio Federated Clubs during a period of eight years, and gave four years of service as chairman of the literary department of the Cleveland Sorosis. In the World war period Mrs. Pyke was secretary of the Woman's Committee of Council of National Defense, and also had charge of an Americanization center during eighteen months. She was the only woman member of the executive committee on Liberty Bond campaigns. The high civic ideals of Mrs. Pyke have not been merely a matter of sentiment, but have been translated into constructive action, in which she has brought to bear the full force of her splendid and loyal personality. She has significantly honored and been honored by her native State of Ohio.

A History of Cuyahoga County
and the City of Cleveland
By: William R. Coates
The American Historical Society
Chicago and New York, 1924

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