Thomas McKenzie
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My Cousin, John Thomas Apel

My first cousin, John Tom, died on Saturday. He was my father's sister's only son. Yes, there is a large difference in our ages. My father was 52 when I was born, and John's mother (who was older than my dad) was much younger when he was born. I will remember him as a kind, intelligent, and funny man who was a great blessing to my dad.

Here is his obituary from the Amarillo Globe News.

PANHANDLE - John Thomas Apel, 63, died Saturday, March 28, 2009, in Amarillo.

Graveside services will be at 2 p.m. Tuesday in Panhandle Cemetery with the Rev. Joe Zimmerman, pastor of First Baptist Church, officiating. Masonic rites are by Carson County Masonic Lodge No. 1167. Arrangements are by Minton/Chatwell Funeral Directors.

John was born July 31, 1945, to John W. Apel Jr. and Frances McKenzie Apel. His birth was well attended by his two grandparents, Dr. Thomas H. and Dr. Anna Haigh McKenzie, she being an obstetrician. His Apel grandparents were John W. Sr. and Alberta Boyce Apel. In the family tradition, he was named after his two grandfathers - John for the Apels and Thomas for the McKenzies.

After receiving his bachelor's degree in English from West Texas State University, he received his master's degree in mathematics from Texas Tech University. He and Shirley Ann Walker were married on June 16, 1967.

John was drafted into the U.S. Army, where he became a sharpshooter and sergeant. At one point, he knew he had two sets of orders, one to Vietnam and one to Germany. After a very anxious week, the set for Germany was issued.

Angela Ann, his only child, was born on May 7, 1969, in Nuremberg, Germany. Upon his honorable discharge, John taught English and mathematics in various high schools in Kansas, New Mexico and Texas, retiring to Panhandle to live in the McKenzie/Apel family home.

John began studying the Masonic rites in 1978 and became - as his father and Uncle Howard McKenzie before him - Worshipful Master of the Carson County Lodge. Shortly before he died, he was tutoring a neighbor in the Masonic rites.

On Aug. 6, 1986, John married Carolyn Vick Iles.

Survivors include his wife, Carolyn; two stepsons, Joe Iles of Amarillo and Michael Iles of Alvin and their families; a daughter, Angela Ann Apel of Ardmore, Okla.; two sisters, Ann and Bill Stewart of Edmonton, Alberta, and Marie and Bill Ishee of Houston, and their son, Jonathan; and seven grandchildren.

The family suggests memorials be to a charity of choice.