Scholarship fund created in memory of ‘forever Apache’ Kenneth Prater

Jul 17, 2013 by

As the husband of former activities director Emma Lou Prater, Kenneth Prater logged countless miles in TJC vans, transporting TJC cheerleading squads to games and competitions. When he wasn’t driving cheerleaders – and even in the years after Emma Lou retired – he was driving the family car so he and Emma Lou could watch TJC football, baseball or basketball games.

Kenneth Prater made his final journey in late April. He was 86.

Kenneth and Emma Lou proudly recalled they attended 123 consecutive TJC football games.  They served hundreds of meals to students at their home and were regulars at most any TJC event.

“KP, as we referred to him as students of Tyler Junior College, was known by all as one of the most faithful and loyal Apache fans,” recalls Dr. Blair Blackburn, a former TJC cheerleader who now serves as executive vice president for Dallas Baptist University. “KP possessed a passion for Apache athletics and could always be seen sporting his ‘black and gold’ at Apache football or basketball games … or even around town.

“He was dedicated to helping Emma Lou with whatever she was doing for the students. From driving vans to take cheerleaders to athletic events to grilling burgers in his backyard for athletes or Student Senate members, KP was a servant, who always placed the students first. TJC benefited from having KP as one of her dedicated supporters. As students, we were blessed by KP’s investment in our lives, demonstrating for us what it meant to be a true servant leader to others.”

Prater retired from the Cotton Belt Railroad after 43 years. He enjoyed all sports but was particularly fond of baseball and played semi-professionally for the Edom Redbirds.

The Praters were married for 65 years. Emma Lou, who received the Black and Gold Award in 1996 and a Special Recognition Award in 2012 from the TJC Alumni Association, continues to be involved in alumni work and TJC activities.

“Kenneth and Emma Lou Prater are forever Apaches,” said Angie Clemons, staff coordinator for intercollegiate athletics. “KP may be gone, but I will forever see him in the stands at Rose Stadium or anxiously pacing along the mezzanine in Wagstaff Gym.”

Memorial contributions may be made to the Kenneth Prater Scholarship Fund with the TJC Foundation. Call 903-510-2382 for information.



Academics, Alumni, Spring 2013

About the author

Fred Peters is the Director of Public Affairs at Tyler Junior College. He can be reached at 903-510-2627 or at