By Terry Rogers
On Thursday, July 9, hundreds of friends and family members packed the Rookery North to say goodbye to Sylvan Allen “Skip” Pikus, a city councilman and business owner. State and local officials as well as citizens, town leaders, businessmen and customers turned out for the service at the golf course where Skip often played golf.
“Heaven got a little brighter this week,” said Ethan Holland, a family friend. “No one who ever met him will forget Skip’s smile, his outgoing nature and his love of Milford. Today, when we ride through town and look at the door to Lou’s Bootery, we will expect to see him, leaning against the wall, waving and smiling as people pass.”
Skip Pikus was born in Dover, the son of the late Louis and Dora Pikus. Skip’s father, Lou, had a background in accounting, graduating from Beacom College. He worked for Triangle Shoe Company in Binghamton, New York. After the war, he decided to go into business for himself and purchased the iconic store on the corner of North Walnut and Northwest Front Street from Winfield Wright. In the early 1950s, Skip and his late brother, Terry, joined the business with their father with the brothers eventually taking over the business from their father.
Many Milfordians say that they, their children and their children’s children got their first set of shoes from Mr. Pikus. Over the years, the store evolved into fitting individuals with special foot needs and those who need special sizes. Lou’s Bootery also contracted with businesses and governmental organizations to provide work boots and safety shoes.
In addition to running the shoe business, Mr. Pikus served as a City Council member from 1973 until 1981, then served on Kent County Levy Court from 1973 until 1981 before returning to council from 1990 until 1996. He was elected as one of the Ward 2 councilmen in 2010 where he served on the Police Committee, Annexation Committee and as chairman of the Finance Committee. He was known for saying at the end of every finance report at city council meetings “We are healthy, but we are not wealthy.”
In the days before his funeral service, many Milford residents commented about their relationship with Mr. Pikus on social media.
“Today, we will say goodbye to Skip Pikus,” posted Eric Camper. “As my mom told me because, of course, I could not remember, Skip fit my tiny feet for my first pair of shoes. And so he did for my children. I remember sitting on those little benches. Then going to Scottie’s or Abe’s for a haircut. Going to Woolworth’s for a grilled cheese. Then all grown up, seeing Skip out and about. Laughing. Smiling. Everyone in the room knew he was there and, frankly, I never heard an ill word spoken about him. Lou’s Bootery. A piece of Milfordian history.”
Those who spoke at his service remembered a man who was always dressed in brightly colored, “sharp” clothing. They recalled that Mr. Pikus always remembered people he met and greeted them by name when he saw them again. They remembered him as a devoted family man who adored his sons and his grandchildren.
Mr. Pikus is survived by his three sons and their wives, David and Katherine; Stephen and Gretchen; Eric and Pixie as well as a brother, Rubin. His brother, Terry, preceded him in death in 2012. He is also survived by his grandchildren, Madeline, William, Dalton, Emma Rose, Alec, Lauren and Benjamin.
“He touched more people in a week than most people touched in a lifetime,” said his son, Eric. “I have had people reach out to me all week with stories and comments about him. It makes today a little easier knowing how many people he touched.”