The Story of a Real Hero
Recently, my father-in-law, Bill Peycke, passed away. I was called upon to give the eulogy for his funeral. Because I had made a six hour video tape of his life history in 2001, I was able to share some of the virtues that were present behind the quiet persona of this heroic Christian. It is a pleasure for me to share his eulogy with you, here, delivered at his funeral on August 24, 2010.
William James Peycke, Jr.
November 2, 1921 to August 16, 2010
Eulogy. William James Peycke, Jr, was born in Willard, Kansas on November 2, 1921. Willard was located about 15 miles west of Topeka. Bill’s father was a railroad man, a signal maintainer on the Rock Island Railroad. Bill’s family moved to Topeka when he was only 2 years old. His father was very strict about not going into debt, so they did not have a car. They rode around Topeka on the trolleys. Finally, in 1929, his dad bought their first car, and paid cash for it. It was a Ford. This allowed the children to visit their mother’s siblings in central Kansas.
Some of Dad’s fondest memories of childhood were travels by train. Since his father worked for the railroad, they always got tickets at a reduced price. Dad had two favorite cars on the train, the dining car and the Pullman. The dining car used heavy china with beautiful silverware, and served full meals. The Pullman was a luxurious car used for sleeping. There were upper and lower berths. Dad and his brother used to sleep in the upper births. But his favorite place to sleep was the lower berth, where you could watch the sun rise as you woke up in the morning.
Dad lived in the time before there were shots for polio and other childhood diseases. If anyone in town got sick, a poster was put on your house, announcing a quarantine. As a kid, they didn’t have games from the store, they played made-up games in the yard. They played hide and go seek, stick baseball, and other simple games. They stretched a net between two trees for a tennis court. Later, he did buy a crystal set, so that he could listen to the radio, and a phonograph with a megaphone sticking out, just like on the RCA logo, so that the family could listen to records.
At the age of 10, Dad moved to Alta Vista, KS. This was 1932, in the heart of the depression. Thankfully, his father had very high seniority in the railroad, and his job was secure all the way through the depression. It was a good move. Because of his father’s views on going into debt, the family didn’t buy a house, but rented one for $10 a month. At that time, his father was paid $80 or $90 a month. Later, in the 1940's, his father broke down and did take out a loan on a house. They had chickens, two cows, milk, cream, and a big garden spot. Dad made money mowing people’s lawns and delivering newspapers.
In 1934, Bill’s brother Frank became very ill with pneumonia in the middle of a blizzard. The doctor in Alta Vista suggested a flax seed poultice, but Bill’s mother didn’t trust that doctor. She thought is should be a mustard poultice. They called the doctor in the next town, who said that he would be happy to come out, but he had no way of getting there because of the snow. Bill’s dad said that if he could stand the cold, he could ride down to Topeka on a little railroad motor car and pick him up at the station. This was a car with a little engine, that one man could lift on and off the track. First, he had to wait for a train going west to clear the tracks. Then, after he picked up the doctor, they had to wait for a train headed east, and brought the doctor home. Frank survived his illness with the mustard poultice, by the way, while another boy in town with a flax seed poultice died.
Dad went on his first date at the age of 14, right after he got his driver’s license. He called up a girl and asked her if she would like to go with him to a movie. He said the parents in town always appreciated him, because he treated his dates with a lot of respect. Dad was very interested in sports in High School. By his senior year, he lettered in all three sports: football, basketball and baseball. He also received a letter in academics, played trombone in the band, and made all “A’s” in his senior year.
Dad says that “salvation was the most important decision he made in his life.” As a child, his family attended a Presbyterian Church in Topeka, and a Methodist Church in Alta Vista. Dad wasn’t sure if he received Christ as a child, or whether it happened in 1952 after he and Ann were married. But, as he says, “The important thing is that he knows he received Christ.”
In 1939, Dad graduated from High School, and went away to Kansas State University. He applied for advanced ROTC training, and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. After Pearl Harbor, he was sent to Camp Edwards at Cape Cod Bay, where he trained people in anti-aircraft fire. He also trained soldiers who were taken to fight in the Battle of the Bulge, and later trained soldiers to use a new weapon at that time, called the bazooka. The climax of his army career was taking a boat to Leyte Island in the Philippines to prepare for the invasion of Japan. While the boat was in the water, the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Japan surrendered. Dad was thankful that they did not have to mount an invasion on Japan, which would have cost the lives of many more people.
Before he left for the service, Dad got to know Ann Poole when they both attended K-State. They first met at a fraternity dance. During that time, Dad would go and visit Ann at her house on the farm, near Manhattan, and sit on the sofa all afternoon, but apparently was not a big talker. Ann’s sister, Helen said, “Sis, stay away from Peycke, because he’s just too quiet.” Between his Jr. And Sr. year in college, Dad went away to serve in the Army for 4 years. When he came back from the war, he went to K-State to finish his degree in mechanical engineering. He was still interested in Ann Poole, who at that time was teaching and running a restaurant during the Summer months called the Yucca Inn. During this time, they one day met each other walking to church on a Sunday morning. Mom says that when they saw each other, something clicked inside. So on the fourth time of asking her to marry him, Mom finally agreed. Dad and Mom were married on January 1, 1948. They were supposed to be married on December 31, but they got married a day late because of a blizzard in Manhattan, Kansas.
After marriage, Dad worked for several companies in the oil rig business. He worked first for Jensen Brothers Manufacturing in Coffeeville, KS, and then for another company in Baxter Springs, KS. The owner at this company wanted to give Dad a raise, without actually raising his salary. He told him to pad his expense account by an extra $100 a month. Dad never liked that type of dishonesty, and immediately started looking for another job.
He ended up being hired by Unit Rig and Equipment Company in Tulsa, Oklahoma. During his 31 years at Unit Rig, he worked as a design engineer, and secured several patents. He was promoted to the Plant Superintendent in Tulsa, and at one time had around 1500 people working under him. When Unit Rig decided to expand into East Texas, Dad was put in charge of the operation as the general manager of all their plants here. The Kimco plant here in Conroe made mining trucks, which held up to 200 tons of ore. Their trucks were the first to use electric drive, and the Kimco division developed a fine reputation. Later, Dad was placed on the China team, and ended his career with Kimco as the manager of a one of their new companies, called Harrisburg Manufacturing.
After retiring at the age of 62, Dad and Mom wrote letters to 16 mission agencies, offering to travel anywhere in the world to do mission work as a self-supported couple. Calvary Bible College snatched them up. Dad became the Business Manager at Calvary, and Mom worked in the kitchen at Calvary. They moved into a little condo in Belton, MO, and stayed for five years, until 1988. This was a very special time for Gayle and me, because it was the only time as our children were growing up that we lived close to grandparents.
Dad was always very interested in church work, and was usually placed on the elder or deacon board at all the churches they attended. Dad and Mom both had the gift of giving, and were able to generously support all the churches they attended, as well as missionaries that needed support.
After returning to Conroe, Mom and Dad became active in Child Evangelism Fellowship, and was invited on to the state board for East Texas. In his later years, Dad also enjoyed a ministry of caregiving. He and a couple other men would meet with Dave once a week, find out about prayer requests and people who needed a visit, and would follow up on caring for the flock. He became an expert at writing people notes of encouragement.
For his family, one of the most important jobs he fulfilled each year was reserving the cabins at Lake Tenkiller, for the annual Peyckefest. This was the time each year when all of his children and grandchildren would gather for boating, skiing, swimming, and just enjoying one another. Along with all the good food, we also remember the family devotions we had every night after dinner, and the sweet times of fellowship we enjoyed playing games and just talking with one another.
There are many things we could say about Bill Peycke.
• Daniel noted that he was a leader. He was a leader in his family, at church, and in the workplace. He was a spiritual leader in all areas.
• William talks about the scholarship he provided at Calvary Bible College, to pay for the college education of both William and David. William remember when Grandpa was the business manager, and the mercy he had on students who couldn’t always pay for their education at the beginning of each term. William also remembers Grandpa sitting in his red chair, reading his Bible. For that reason, it was extra special that Grandpa was able to read the scriptures at William’s wedding.
• Jonathan remembers that Grandma and Grandpa paid for many of the grandchildren to attend Summit Ministries, and that he met his wife, Cassi, there.
• David remembers the birthday cards that Grandpa would send every year, and that they always had a Bible verse and a personally note of encouragement.
• Cathy and Carrie remember that they always felt included as daughters in law–he always made them feel a part of the family.
• Bill remembers that Dad had a plan for reading through the NT, and that the scriptures were always a very important part of his life.
• John remembers his Grandpa as a man who was powerful in his prayer life. John says that his prayers really helped the next generation of Peycke as they were growing up.
Toward the end of his life, the family pulled together to help Dad attain his wish, which was to die in his home. Special thanks need to be given to Gwen Schneider, who took on the lion’s share of the load for caring for her parents, as the daughter who lived closest to her parents. Gwen, Dave, Karis, Meg, Nate and Ev, we can’t thank you enough for all you did.
We also are thankful for Bill and Loren, who were able to provide nursing care for Dad toward the end of his life. Also, Paul Friz was able to come toward the end of the Summer and take care of his grandpa. In the end, as Bill describes is, he raised his hands to heaven and released his Spirit to God.
Dad, we know that you are now enjoying the mansion in heaven that Jesus promised to prepare for you while he was here on earth. We will miss you, but plan on joining you soon, through the blessed mercies of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Obituary. William (Bill) James Peycke, Jr., age 88, of Conroe, TX, went home to be with his Lord and Savior on Monday, August 16, 2010.
Beloved husband for 62 years of Anna A. (Poole) Peycke; loving father of Bill (Cathy) Peycke; Gayle (Mark) Friz, Ruth (Richard) Heckmann, Loren (Carrie) Peycke, and Gwen (David) Schneider; devoted grandfather of William IV (Kay) Peycke, David Peycke, Joel (Alecia) Peycke, Daniel Peycke, John Peycke, Jonathan (Cassi) Friz, Caleb (Ruth) Friz, Lydia Friz, Paul Friz, Anna Heckmann, Rebekah Heckmann, Matthew Heckmann, Elizabeth Heckmann, Luke Heckmann, Esther Heckmann, Zane Peycke, Leah Peycke, Karis Schneider, Meg Schnieder, Nate Schneider and Evangeline Schneider; proud great-grandfather of Andrew, Caris, Gabriel, Sabbath, Evangeline, Lacey, Nate and Emrys.
Bill Peycke was born on November 2, 1921, in Willard, Kansas, to the late William and Estella Peycke. He was the brother of the late Frank Peycke and Margaret O’Donnell. He was raised in Topeka and Alta Vista, KS. Bill served in active duty as a lieutenant in the Army from 1942-1946, training infantrymen stateside, and serving as a communications office in the Philippines. He was honorably discharged as an artillery captain in 1952. He received a degree from Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS in mechanical and electrical engineering in 1947.
Bill was plant manager for unit Rig and Equipment Co. In Tulsa, OK, and of Kimco in Conroe, TX. After retiring in 1984, he served for 5 years as the business administrator of Calvary Bible College in Kansas City, MO. He then served on the college board of directors for many years. Bill was a long-time member of Conroe Bible Church where he faithfully served on the elder board and missions committee. He was influential in shaping and mentoring many of the leaders at CBC.
Visitation is scheduled for Monday, August 23, 2010 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Cashner Funeral home. A Celebration of Life will be held on Tuesday, August 24, 2010 at 10:30 a.m. at Conroe Bible Church. Bill’s grandsons will serve as pallbearers.