Peyton, Robert L.

9/4/2011

 

ROBERT L. PEYTON
MAY 26, 1916 – SEPTEMBER 4, 2011
 
Robert L. (Bob) Peyton was born in Baxterville, Mississippi on May 26, 1916 to Guion Peyton and Joanna Bond Peyton. He was reared in Baxterville and attended the University of Southern Mississippi graduating in 1941 with a B.S. degree. He received a Master of Divinity degree from Candler School of Theology at Emory University in 1943. He completed all the course work for a Ph.D. degree in history at the University of Texas at Austin from 1949 to 1952.
 
For 68 years he was a United Methodist pastor who served churches first in Mississippi and Texas, and then in Louisiana beginning in 1953 at Lake Charles, Arcadia, Bastrop, West Monroe, and finally at Ruston as District Superintendent. He also served on many Conference committees through the years. At each church he served in Louisiana, he initiated successful building expansion programs.   
 
He was known for his well-planned sermons, which he always preached without notes, even into his 90’s. He was called upon by other pastors to preach over 60 revivals in United Methodist congregations during his ministry in Louisiana. After his official retirement in 1983, he continued an active ministry as guest preacher and pastoral visitor, and as officiating minister at weddings and funerals.
 
He was also known throughout his ministry for the many ways he entertained groups using humor and his musical abilities while delivering meaningful messages. On many occasions he was invited by a pastor to arrive at the back door of the pastor’s church during a potluck supper pretending to be a transient in need of a meal. He ended up entertaining the group with his singing and guitar and delivered an inspirational message before the group caught on to the act. He was also invited by pastors to dress as John Wesley and to deliver Wesley-inspired sermons to United Methodist congregations.
 
Perhaps his gift for entertaining is best remembered by his 400 performances over the past 20 years with his dear friend, the Rev. Doug McGuire, as they teamed up for programs of song and storytelling filled with humor and inspiration that touched the lives of thousands.
 
At his retirement from the Louisiana Conference in 1983, in lieu of a retirement speech, Bob with his guitar, and to a standing ovation with long applause, sang a retirement song to the tune of “It’s a Long, Long Way to Tipperary” with these words:
 
We’ve come a long, long way to reach retirement.
It’s been a long way to go.
We’ve come a long, long way to reach retirement.
We’ll enjoy it we all know. 
Pension checks and Social Security,
And then there’s Medicare, too. 
We’ve come a long, long way to reach retirement,
But we’ll still find much to do. 
 
We’ve come a long, long way to reach retirement.
The Lord has blessed us all our days. 
He has been our Strength and Provider,
And been our Shepherd all the way. 
We say thanks to friends and to loved ones,
And most of all to God,
For the love and joy which have been with us,
Along the way our feet have trod. 
 
We’ve come a long, long way to reach retirement. 
It’s been a long way to go. 
But we all have some wonderful memories,
And a strong and steadfast hope. 
With faith and trust we face the future,
Unafraid of the unknown. 
For the Lord will always be with us,
And His grace will lead us on,
And his grace will lead us on.
 
One of his favorite verses was Psalm 118:1, “O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!”
 
Bob and his wife of 67 years, Elizabeth, lived in retirement in Arcadia, Louisiana for 28 years. They moved to Hartwell, Georgia to live near their son one month before Bob died unexpectedly on September 4, 2011. Elizabeth and their son, Robert Lee Peyton, Jr., an Episcopal priest, still reside in Hartwell, Georgia. Bob was preceded in death by his younger son, Guy Murray Peyton. 
 
The Robert L. Peyton Memorial Scholarship Fund has been set up by his family for United Methodist seminary students from the Louisiana Conference, administered through the Conference.