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Kenneth Leroy Peters

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Kenneth Leroy Peters, 98, of Tarzana, CA, passed peacefully on November 25th at home in Tarzana, California surrounded by his loved ones. Mr. Peters was born on June 27, 1915 in Orange, CA, to the late Rex and Mary Peters (Butler). Mr. Peters attended public schools in San Bernardino before obtaining his BS in Business Administration from USC in 1936. He also earned his MS in School Administration from USC. During his time at USC, Mr. Peters was the captain of the 1936 championship baseball team. He was awarded USC's most prestigious athletic award, known as the Trojan Diamond Medal, which became one of his most cherished possessions. Many years after his retirement, his many accomplishments at USC and in public education were once again recognized when he received the USC Rossier Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to public education, and the Trojan Baseball Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award. One of the little known facts about Mr. Peters is that while at USC he was in many films including "Mutiny on the Bounty" and "Death on the Diamond". Immediately following his graduation from USC, Mr. Peters was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals and played professionally until 1938. Following his professional baseball stint, Mr. Peters proudly served in the US Navy during World War II from 1942-1945. He earned the rank of LCDR, and his service included time on the USS Kasaan Bay in both the Pacific and Atlantic Theaters. Following his time in the Navy, Mr. Peters went on to become an educator in many different public school districts including Montebello and Beverly Hills. He was the Principal of Montebello Senior High School from 1945-1950, then began his long and distinguished tenure in the Beverly Hills Unified School District as the Principal of Beverly Hills High School from 1950-1959 and served as Superintendent of Beverly Hills Unified School District from 1959 until his retirement in 1982. Following his retirement from Beverly Hills Unified School District, the auditorium was named 'KL Peters Auditorium" in his honor. Mr. Peters was co-founder of the National Suburban School Superintendents. He was also a involved in many California state commissions and associations including; Past chair of Schools for Sound Finance, State Advanced Placement Commission; Past President of California City Superintendents, California Association of School Principals, Beverly Hills Rotary Club, member of the California Postsecondary Commission, National Century Club. Cleveland Conference, USC Board of Councilors and Pepperdine University Dean's Advisory Committee. In 1984, Mr. Peters was appointed to the California State Board of Education where he served in various capacities until 1992. Mr. Peters was also an adjunct professor/guest lecturer at many notable institutions including Harvard University and Stanford University. Mr. Peters was honored by local Beverly Hills civic organizations for his service in public education including Man of the Year by the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce and Civic Association and Citizen of the Year by both the Maple Center and Beverly Hills Realty Board. Mr. Peters loved USC and although his wife, Mary Ann graduated from UCLA, he made sure that his sons (Kent and Craig) were properly indoctrinated by taking them to USC football and baseball games by the time they could speak and ever since. Because of their dad, both Kent and Craig will always love USC with the same passion as their dad. Kent and Craig have passed on the passion to Mr. Peter's grandchildren (Mark, Mary Ann, and Griffin) and Mary Ann recently graduated from USC much to the delight of her Papa Pete as he was known by his grandchildren who loved him so much. Mr. Peters was also an avid Dodger fan and held season tickets for over 40 years Mr. Peters was pre-deceased by his loving wife, Mary Ann (Whitmore), brother, Walt Peters, and oldest son Steve Peters. He is survived by his sons Kent Peters of Rancho Santa Margarita and Craig Peters of Santa Clarita, and grandchildren Mary Ann Peters and Mark Peters of Rancho Santa Margarita, and Griffin Peters of Santa Clarita. The family held a private interment with full military honors. The family has scheduled a public memorial service at the KL Peters Auditorium at Beverly Hills High School on February 2 at 10 a.m. at which time information will be disseminated regarding donations to a foundation to be established in his honor.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on Jan. 4, 2014
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