Kenneth R. Peak passed away Friday, the 19th of April 2013, at age 67 after a courageous battle with brain cancer. Ken was the son of Harold Raymond "Dutch" and Mary Rose Peak, both of whom predeceased him. Ken was born the 17th of July 1945, in Cleves, Ohio, and grew up in nearby Frogtown.
Ken was a 1963 graduate of Taylor High School and went on to earn a BS in Physics from Ohio University in 1967 and a MBA from Columbia University in 1972. Ken served as an Officer in the United States Navy from 1968 to 1971 where he worked as a Cryptologist.
Ken was a man of many accomplishments in the business world. Ken served as the President and Chief Executive Officer at Contango Ore Inc., since October 2009. Ken served as Chief Executive Officer of Contango Oil & Gas Company. He was Chairman at Contango Oil & Gas Co. since 1999 and served as President, Chief Financial Officer and Secretary from July 1999 to November 2011 and also as Chief Executive Officer from September 1999 to August 2012. He founded Contango Oil & Gas Co. in September, 1999. Before Contango, Ken served as the President at Peak Enernomics Inc., a natural gas and oil-consulting firm that he formed, since 1990. Ken began his energy career in 1973 as a Commercial Banker in First National Bank of Chicago's energy group. He served as a Treasurer at Tosco Corporation in 1980 and Chief Financial Officer at Texas International Company ('TIC') in 1982. Ken's tenure with TIC included serving as the President of TIPCO, the domestic operating subsidiary of TIC's natural gas and oil operations. Ken served as the Chief Financial Officer of Forest Oil Corporation from 1988 to 1989 and as an investment banker with Howard Weil from 1989 to 1990. Ken was Director of Cellxion Inc. beginning on November 6, 2000. Ken served as Director at AKM Enterprise Inc., NL Industries Inc. and Contango Capital Partnership Management, LLC. He was a Director of Patterson-UTI Energy Inc a North America provider of onshore contract drilling services to exploration and production companies, beginning on November 6, 2000. He served as a Director of Amerac Energy Corp. since 1995. Ken also served on the management committee of the College of Arts and Sciences at Ohio University. In addition, Ken served as the Chairman of the Board for OnKure, an oncology drug company that was founded in 2011.
Ken started Contango with nothing but a desire to build a successful business for himself and his shareholders, and from this idea built a very successful oil and gas exploration and production company. Besides building businesses, he built friendships that lasted a lifetime; once you were a friend of Ken's, his loyalty, good counsel, and companionship would become your biggest asset. Ken was a natural leader; he instilled confidence in those who worked with him and he could be counted on to do the right thing when it was most difficult. Ken was widely known as a "character" in business. Ken would always tell it like it is, preferring to just lay it all out on the line and let the chips fall where they may.
Amongst the many charitable donations that Ken made, he quietly provided generous support to Yes Prep, helping to build Yes into a system of 11 high performing schools in Houston serving over 7,000 low income children in grades 6-12.
Ken was nicknamed "Joe" by his family because he was a "good old Joe." If you knew Ken, you would not be surprised that he was the class clown and frequently was in trouble for his pranks and practical jokes. As a brother, he was caring, competitive, encouraging, and fun. As a father, he was great at doling out practical advice, instilling important life values and always reminding his children not to take life too seriously. And as an uncle, family gatherings always included wrestling matches, Monopoly, the Syndicate, Euchre, knee football, the Joe Club, nonstop teasing and laughter. There couldn't be a Peak wedding without Ken's rendition of Margaritaville. The memories, laughter and stories he left his family will be shared for years and years to come.
Ken lived life to the fullest. He loved taking trips to his lodge where he could visit with his great friend Billy Jack Corbell and spend time with family. Ken enjoyed participating in anything competitive (especially golf) with his many friends, and in his younger days played softball and basketball with a passion. He loved a good work out and a run.
But his most recent years with Donna were his best. He found his equal in love and in intellect. They laughed all day and held each other all night. Their bond in both health and in sickness was unbreakable, and their love for each other was immeasurable.
Ken's final months were spent fighting cancer, and he never gave up or quit pressing forward. His wife Donna was with him around the clock, and gave Ken the love and comfort of knowing she would always be there. Ken also had the love and support of his children, sister and brother as he battled his illness.
As a symbol of his generosity and tenacity in a fight, Ken and Donna Peak made a substantial donation to Methodist Hospital to establish the Kenneth R. Peak Brain and Pituitary Tumor Treatment Center to continue the fight with brain illness. The family would like to thank Dr. David Baskin, and the many friendly nurses and staff of Methodist Hospital of Houston for the dedication and personal attention they gave Ken over the past several months. We would also like to thank Dr. Henry Friedman of Duke University for his support and dedication. In addition, we express many thanks to Dr. Xuedong Liu of University of Colorado at Boulder for his scientific input.
Ken is survived by his loving wife, Donna; daughter Mariclare Elko and husband, Chris; son Joe Peak; grandchildren Jack, Madeline, and Charlie Elko; sister Sandy Peak; brother Mike and wife, Jane Peak; four nieces; seven nephews; two aunts; and numerous cousins.
Friends are cordially invited to a visitation with the family from four o'clock in the afternoon until eight o'clock in the evening on Tuesday, the 23rd of April, in the library and grand foyer of Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive in Houston.
The funeral service is to be conducted at ten o'clock in the morning on Wednesday, the 24th of April, in the Jasek Chapel of Geo. H. Lewis & Sons. Immediately following, all are invited to greet the family during a reception in the adjacent grand foyer.
In lieu of customary remembrances, memorial contributions may be directed to Kenneth R. Peak Brain and Pituitary Tumor Treatment Center, Neurological Research Foundation, Attn: David Baskin, M.D., 1656 North Blvd., Houston, TX, 77006.
Published by Houston Chronicle from Apr. 21 to Apr. 22, 2013.