Kenneth Diebel

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Kenneth L. Diebel died peacefully May 30, 2017 in Austin, Texas after a long and full life of service to God, his family and his community. He will be deeply missed.

Kenneth was born February 13, 1926 at home in Meyersville, Texas to Erwin and Erna Diebel. He was the oldest of two brothers. His daddy died of appendicitis when Kenneth was seven years old and his brother Burt was a tiny baby. His mother never remarried, and she struggled valiantly to support and raise the two boys with a strong Lutheran sense of values and an unswerving moral compass. The Diebel family spoke German at home, and Kenneth did not learn English until he began first grade.

As a boy Kenneth was active in Boy Scouts and earned the rank of Life Scout, but soon the six-foot six-inch redheaded boy was discovered by the Cuero High School basketball coach. Basketball games interfered with Boy Scouts, so "Red" Diebel switched his focus to become the star center of the Cuero Gobblers basketball team.

After high school, he attended the University of Texas for a year on a basketball scholarship and studied chemistry before he was drafted into the Army. During World War II, Private First Class Diebel put his German language skills and his knowledge of chemistry to good use as a translator and medic in a hospital in Germany.

After the War, he returned to U.T. and finished his degree on the GI bill. After enduring (and failing) a chemistry lab in the un-air-conditioned basement of the chemistry building one summer in Austin, he decided chemistry was not for him and (luckily for us) changed his major to geology. He waited tables at the Littlefield girls' dormitory and lived in a boarding house on Nueces Street. All his life Kenneth loved to visit the U.T. campus to see his old college haunts.

After earning a B.S. in geology from the University, Kenneth went to work in Conroe for the Humble Oil Company (later Exxon). He met the love of his life, Nita Samuel, at the Conroe First United Methodist Church where she was the organist. They soon married and had two girls, Kay and Ann.

Kenneth had a very successful career as an exploration geologist and manager with Exxon, and the family traveled all over the world, living in Houston, Tyler, Dallas, Libya, London and Norway. Ken and Nita made many lifelong friends through Exxon. Ken loved to play the guitar and was well known for the song parodies honoring coworkers that he wrote and performed at going away parties when fellow Exxon employees were transferred to a new assignment.

Kenneth retired and moved home to Conroe in the early 1980's. He was a very active member of Conroe First Presbyterian Church, where he attended Sunday school, delivered Meals on Wheels, and worked on many Habitat for Humanity houses. He also greatly enjoyed "guitaring" with a group of musicians that met at the Montgomery County Administration Building. At the age of 80, he would go and entertain with his guitar at the "old folks' home."

Ken was always up for a challenge. After a French friend told him that no American could learn to speak proper French, he spent countless hours over many years studying French, listening to French tapes, watching French TV and traveling to Canada and France for immersive language experiences. He was very proud of his linguistic abilities and became fluent in Norwegian and French in addition to the German and English he grew up speaking.

Keeping in shape was another important value to Ken. He jogged a minimum of three miles every morning and often bragged that he had gone much further.

Kenneth never faltered in his belief in the saving grace of God the father and his son Jesus Christ. His well-worn Bible provided him with comfort and wisdom all his life, and his belief in his Lord was a guiding principal upon which he measured all his actions and decisions. We are happy that he has finally gone home to his eternal rest in God.

Ken was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Dr. Burton E. Diebel, and his beloved wife Nita. He is survived by daughter Kay Diebel Brock and husband Bradley Brock of Austin, daughter Ann Diebel and husband Keith Lutsch of Houston, grandchildren Alexiy, Rita and Kenny Brock, and numerous nieces and nephews.

Visitation will be from 10 am until 12 noon Saturday, June 3, 2017 at Metcalf Funeral Home, 1801 E. White Oak Terrace, Conroe, Texas followed by a graveside service at Conroe Memorial Park Cemetery, 1600 Porter Road at 2 pm. All are welcome.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to the Montgomery County Food Bank, 1 Prospect Point, Conroe, Texas 77385.


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Published on yourconroenews.com from May 31 to June 13, 2017
Arrangements under the direction of:
Metcalf Funeral Directors
1801 East White Oak Terrace | Conroe, TX 77304 | (936) 756-3311
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