Peyton III, Thomas Bridgers


August 8, 1946 - January 11, 1980
Thomas Bridgers Peyton III was born August 8, 1946, in Shreveport, Louisiana, the son of Thomas Bridgers Peyton, Jr. and Virginia Ketcham Peyton. Tom attended public schools of the city and was graduated from Byrd High School. At Centenary College Tom became a member and officer of Tau Kappa Epsilon; he was elected to membership in Omicron Delta Kappa leadership fraternity and named to “Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities.” In 1968 he received the Ellis H. Brown leadership award for outstanding senior and the Bachelor of Humanities degree at Garrett Theological Seminary, Evanston, Illinois, Tom was named outstanding first year student, for which he received a scholarship; he received the Master of Divinity from Garrett in 1971.
In June 1971 Tom was appointed associate minister of First United Methodist Church, Alexandria. He became intensely involved in many aspects of community life. In 1974 he was listed among “Outstanding Young Men of America” and in 1976 he received the Alexandria District Jaycees Service Award as Outstanding Young Man of the Year as well as the Matinee Music Club’s Community Service Award.
From June 1976 to November 1979 Tom was minister of the arts for the First United Methodist Church, Dallas, as well as, from 1976-78, teaching assistant for Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts. He became an associate minister of the First United Methodist Church, Shreveport, in November 1979.
Tom died at his home on January11, 1980, after a lengthy Illness. In addition to his parents he is survived by his wife, Susan Johns Peyton; his son, Jonathan Hughes Peyton; his sister, Carolyn Peyton McDowell of Mandeville, and his grandmothers, Mrs. C. J. Ketcham and Mrs. Thomas B. Peyton Sr. of Shreveport.
In June, 1960 Tom was awarded posthumously the Master of Fine Arts in Art History sumina cum laude from the Meadows School of the Arts, SMU. In March 1980, First United Methodist Church, Alexandria, permanently changed the name of its art festival to “The Tom Peyton Memorial Arts Festival” in his memory.
A memorial service for Tom was held in First United Methodist Church, Shreveport, January 13, 1980 with Dr. D. L. Dykes and Dr. Ben Oliphint conducting It. The worship service was planned by Tom several mouths before his death. He wrote these words about the service:
“In this service I have attempted to reflect through scripture, liturgy, and hymnody my personal affirmation of faith. The central ideas are: the eternal presence of God in our lives; the joy that the knowledge of that presence brings; the power for victorious living that faith in God brings. The dominant mood should be one of JOY. It is my firm belief that death is not final, but a natural part of life that brings one to the greater fulfillment and purpose in God’s kingdom. While grief is real, and words of comfort and assurance need to bespoken, it is, finally, the eternal love and presence of God that should be affirmed at a Christian funeral. Therefore, I desire no eulogy, no trappings of despair; rather there should be a joyous celebration of the on-goingness of life under the gently and loving guidance of God, our creator and sustainer. Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!”
Tom finished life as he had lived it, gracefully, graciously, in love and faith in God, in gratitude for companionship and friends, in trust with the One who had given all of life to him for his trust and responsibility. Thanks be to God, indeed!
Source: Journal of the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church, 1980, Pages 166-167, by Ben Oliphant.

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