A. Kenneth Peacock, a teacher to many

Arthur K. Peacock
Arthur K. Peacock
Posted: March 15, 2013

As a teacher, Arthur Kenneth Peacock had a gift for guiding students through thickets of complexities on the way to clarity.

In undergraduate mathematics, that was no small feat; in theology, arguably even harder.

Through much of his professional life, Mr. Peacock designed computer systems, founding his own company. But he was grounded in education, first as a math instructor at Ohio Wesleyan University and later as a teaching elder at First Presbyterian Church in Moorestown.

His Bible classes drew as many as a hundred congregants - by far the biggest draw of any Sunday school course - and continued until he was diagnosed in November with an aggressive cancer.

Mr. Peacock died at 71 on Wednesday, March 6, at his Moorestown home.

As the 19th century British pastor Charles Spurgeon was the "Prince of Preachers," so, too, "Elder Ken Peacock was the prince of this church's Bible study," said the Rev. Jonathan Miller, senior pastor, who knew him for 20 years.

"For many people, faith is an attachment to their lives. But for Ken, his faith shaped his life, and was the very heart of it."

Born and raised in Moorestown, Mr. Peacock was the son of the township's 1960 "Man of the Year": Mary Peacock, who wrote and produced the community Christmas pageant for two decades, and forced the award's gender-neutral name change to "Citizen." His father, Arthur, was a doctor.

At Moorestown High School, he played football freshman year, with future Hall of Famer Dave Robinson as a scrimmage partner. He fared better in varsity basketball, playing on state championship teams in 1958 and '59, his junior and senior years.

From the College of Wooster in Ohio, he received a bachelor of arts degree in 1963, then a master's in science in 1965 from Ohio State University.

Math came easily to Mr. Peacock, who had a facility for then making it easy for others. From 1966 to 1972, he was an instructor at Ohio Wesleyan.

There he met Joyce Schultz, who would become his wife, mother of their daughter, Diana - and eventually, their pastor said, the force that impelled a disinclined Mr. Peacock toward God.

In the early '70s, he was enticed out of academia and back to Moorestown by a student's father who asked him to computerize Medford Nursery. A cutting-edge concept, it inspired him to start a business developing and maintaining custom systems for small companies.

Mr. Peacock also was intrigued by the stock market, and in the 1980s and '90s was a commodities and options broker.

Meanwhile, his life took, literally, an upturn.

"He would have called himself an agnostic, possibly an atheist," said Miller. "His wife encouraged him to come to church, and he went, reluctantly, because he loved her. In being there, he heard the gospel."

While working, he attended Westminster Theological Seminary in Glenside part-time, earning a master of arts in religion in 2000 and a master of theology in 2003.

By then, he already had a broad following among the congregation of 1,400.

For his Sunday course, he chose a single book of the Bible and "went from beginning to end, making everything understandable," his wife said. "He used humor, quotes from Mark Twain, stories from our lives, his observations of nature. His favorite animal was the squirrel."

Mr. Peacock was a voracious reader of works by the fathers of Protestantism, chief among them the 16th century theologian John Calvin.

In November, his class was partway through his favorite book, Romans, when he had to defer to the fast-moving cancer.

"He was in a lot of pain," Miller said. "But his comment to me was, 'I have no despair within me. I look forward to going home. Either way, I win.' "

A memorial service will begin at 3 p.m. Friday, March 15, at the First Presbyterian Church, 101 Bridgeboro Rd., Moorestown, N.J. 08057.

Donations may be made in care of the church to the Ken Peacock Memorial Fund for Theological Discourse, and also may be made to Samaritan Hospice, 5 Eves Dr., Suite 300, Marlton, N.J. 08053.

Condolences to the family may be offered at www.lewisfuneralhomemoorestown.com.

Contact Kathleen Tinney at 610-313-8106.

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