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Midland has lost a quiet leader in the community and heaven has gained a loyal citizen servant. Kenneth Allen Peeler, 92, was born in the panhandle farming community of Wolfforth, TX on August 25, 1929 and peacefully passed away surrounded by family on December 16th, 2021. Visitation will take place 5:00pm-7:00pm, Wednesday, December 22, 2021 at the Branch @ npw. Funeral Services will be held 11:00am, Thursday, December 23, 2021 at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church. The family will hold private graveside services.
Ken grew up in Levelland, TX while his father managed the local Higginbotham & Bartlett lumber yard. It was in Levelland that Kenneth would meet the love of his life, LaVoe Bigham Peeler, who predeceased him just twenty-eight days prior to their sixty-ninth wedding anniversary. She kept every letter from Kenneth beginning at age fourteen while he was attending Boy Scout summer camp in Post, TX and continuing until their marriage on December 22, 1948. After their wedding the couple returned to Belton, TX while he was completing his tour of duty with the U.S. Army’s 41st Infantry Battalion at Camp Hood, TX. The couple would fondly recall living in a two-room rent house that had a galvanized sheep dip vat for a bathtub and going to the movies on the weekend for entertainment. After an honorable discharge, the young couple returned to Levelland for a short time until Kenneth learned of a job opening for a part-time bookkeeper/truck driver with the newly- formed Midland Sixty-Six Oil Company, Inc. in Midland, TX. Midland was a thriving community with a foundation based on cattle, ranching and newly discovered oil drilling activity in the Sprayberry Field. It didn’t take long for the owners of the company to realize Kenneth was management material and he was promoted to Manager and later President of the company. He didn’t let company titles stand in the way of helping any of the employees load or unload product from the storage tanks or warehouse located on the Garden City highway and he always had a worn pair of overalls at the ready when help was needed. The late John L. Cox fondly recalled finding the company president at the wheel of a loaded bobtail transport on one of his locations in the middle of a cold holiday night with the explanation that the regular driver had had a long day and he didn’t want to call him out during the night. It was that demeanor that earned him the reputation of being a fair-minded and reliable business leader among his employees and customers in the oil, ranch and farming communities. As a testament to family planning, the couple had two sons born on the same day but three years apart in 1952 and 1955.
Kenneth once said, “My dad was one who believed in giving back to the community and I grew up that way”. His father would have been proud of his son who became the unquestioned epitome of civic service to his community and state. Summer nights were spent selling mops and brooms for the Southside Lions Club raising money for the Kerrville Crippled Children’s Camp. He later became President of the club and later served as a Deputy District Governor of Lion’s International. He served local governmental entities by becoming a member of the Appraisal Review Board responsible for hearing ad valorem taxpayer complaints and making adjustments when needed and was a founding board member of Midland 911.
His dedication to youth in our community was exemplary and included serving as a board member of the High Sky Girl’s Ranch and later as President and long-time board member of the Buffalo Trail Council, Boy Scouts of America serving over three thousand scouts and their units in fourteen West Texas counties. His work with scouts was not confined to the boardroom and he could be seen as a positive adult role model leading young men on backpacking hikes into the San Juan Wilderness along the Continental Divide’s Knife Edge Trail in southern Colorado. He would receive the Good Scout Award and Silver Beaver Award for his dedicated work and accomplishments in scouting.
Ken was a long-time member of the Midland Chamber of Commerce and chaired the M-Squad Membership Committee and later established and served as the chair of the Farm and Ranch Committee.
On a state-wide basis, Kenneth served as President of the Texas Oil Marketer’s Assn. and was instrumental in creating legislation that established funding for environmental remediation of underground storage facilities throughout the state. He would serve as a board member of the National Oil Jobber’s Assn. and was instrumental in creating the Tank Owner Member Insurance, Co. (TOMIC); an insurance company underwritten by Lloyd’s of London that would address the oil marketer’s need for coverage and financial protection due in part from the reluctance and fear of conventional insurance companies writing coverage for businesses with underground storage tanks.
Ken continued service to his community beginning in 1972 as an original member of the Midland College (MC) Board of Trustees and became the longest serving community college trustee in the state’s history at forty-seven years. His devotion and dedication to this cause was publicly recognized by the fact that he never drew an opponent to this elected position during his tenure. His love for the college and his wife were memorialized by his creation of the LaVoe B. and Kenneth A. Peeler ECHS @ MC Endowed Scholarship to provide students with the opportunity and support to achieve a post-secondary education while simultaneously enrolled in high school. “I created the Peeler [email protected] Scholarship because a lot of the ECHS graduates were the first in their families to get a college degree,” said Peeler. “After that first group of ECHS students got their degrees, a lot of their parents came back and enrolled in classes in MC. Their children were their inspiration, and the education they all received from MC prepares them to do bigger, better things in the community.”
In his spare time, Ken, along with Jack Johnson and the late Chris King formed the Lazy 3 Cattle Co. and managed a cow/calf operation initially comprised of 530 first- year black Angus heifers on 22,000 acres just South of Midland on the Bryant Ranch. Ranch foreman Grady Jolly, a traditional cowman in the truest sense, would saddle his horse, Cowboy, and ride fence almost every evening. Ken’s sons, raised in the city, acquired new skills and learned to ride horses, gather and work cattle, and pull the seventeen windmills on site. Ken and LaVoe, an accomplished rider in her own right, spent many afternoons riding various sections of the ranch together.
In 1982 Ken, along with several other business owner’s, met and discussed the desire to create a local bank to address the specific financial needs of Southside companies along with the farm and ranch community. Actions speak louder than words and the group applied and received a charter for Community National Bank. He was elected the first Chairman of the Board of Directors and served as an active Board member until his voluntary withdrawal in 2020 at the age of ninety. Today, Community National Bank has eleven locations in Midland, Odessa, Stanton and a branch loan office in Dallas.
Kenneth is survived by his two sons, Kyle and wife, Pam, and Bruce and wife, Alison, along with six grandchildren namely Austin, Andrew, Chase, Madison, Adam and Zane and six great grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers the family requests that memorial donations be made to the Midland College Foundation, 3600 N. Garfield, Midland, TX 79705 for the LaVoe B. and Kenneth A. Peeler ECHS Midland College Endowed Scholarship.
Arrangements are under the direction of Nalley-Pickle & Welch Funeral Home & Crematory in Midland. Online condolences may be made at www.npwelch.com.