In Memoriam: Marshall Pengra, April 10, 2014
Marshall Hylon Pengra IV, of Houston, beloved husband, father, grandfather and friend, passed away at home on Thursday, April 10th, 2014 following a brave battle with pancreatic cancer.
Marshall was born in Salem, Oregon, April 26, 1935 to lifelong golfers and music enthusiasts, Marshall Pengra III and Eva Mae "Penny" Pengra. Marshall attended elementary school in nearby Roseburg before moving to Oakridge, Tennessee in 1947. Marshall Sr. moved the family after accepting an invitation from the federal government to create Oakridge's first radio station as part of the Manhattan Project. In 1951, the family relocated to Tyler, Texas, where his father established the first VHF television station. His father's creative career pursuits and contagious golf game would soon influence Marshall, who graduated from John Tyler High School in 1953.
Marshall attended the University of Texas at Austin on a golf scholarship and lettered his freshman year. His coach at UT, Harvey Penick, later included a chapter about Marshall in his celebrated "Little Blue Book," The Game for a Lifetime. Between studies and golf, Marshall joined Beta Theta Pi fraternity and worked part-time for KTBC-TV.
Marshall left UT in 1957 to join the Army. He worked as a special events and news radio broadcaster and jazz disc jokey for the American Forces Network (AFN) in Germany, where he interviewed notable personalities including Edward R. Murrow, Oscar Peterson and Louis Armstrong.
Two years later, Marshall returned to UT and graduated with a BA in Journalism in 1961. Following graduation, he joined Houston's KTRK-TV (Channel 13) as a newscaster for weather and sports before he transitioned to advertising. He joined Aylin Advertising Agency of Beaumont in 1964 and quickly moved up the ranks and became vice president and manager.
In 1969, Pengra returned to Houston as Senior Vice President of Account Services for Aylin's headquarters. This promotion ignited his illustrious Houston advertising career. Over the years, Pengra worked for several agencies, including Tracy Locke and Goodwin, Danenbaum, Litman & Arrisfield, before he opened his own shop in 1974, The Marshall Pengra Company and later Marshall Pengra Communications.
Throughout his career, he received more than 70 awards for creative writing and production in print, radio and television including various CLIOs, ADDYs, Houston Advertising Federation honors and induction into their Hall of Fame. He also received advertising's highest honor, the American Advertising Federation Silver Medal in 1985.
Thanks to his booming and distinctive voice, Pengra became a well-known local, regional, and national voice-over talent during and beyond his highly successful advertising career. Clients included Pepsi-Cola, Gulf Oil, Wrangler Jeans, Exxon, Prudential Insurance, Shell, Master Card, American Airlines, ESPN and the History Channel.
Marshall loved his creative work and enjoyed any time in the office and studio. Rather than retire, he continued working until his diagnosis, often donating his time, voice and powerful wordsmith skills to charitable organizations, colleagues and friends.
Marshall served as an active St. Martin's volunteer mentor for Yellowstone Academy where he tutored students weekly, often using entertainment and sports magazines to engage interest in reading.
A devoted sports fan with infinite Longhorn allegiance and an enviable 4 handicap, Marshall was an active member of Houston Country Club. Always the competitor, he won the HCC club championship twice and played passionately right up until his illness. When he wasn't on the links, Marshall loved spending time with his family, walking his dog Max and enjoying peaceful weekends at the family home on the Comal River in New Braunfels.
Friends and fans revered Marshall for his sense of humor and unbeatable joke-telling, fluid golf swing, creative writing and word-play, voice-over and many musical talents including singing, harmonizing, piano and ukulele.
Like his parents did for him, Marshall instilled in his children a passionate love of music, entertainment and creativity, along with eternal reverence for the written word, grammatical correctness and stellar comic timing. Always the grand master of ceremonies, he touched many lives with these creative gifts and never left a crowd without offering perfectly executed stories and punch lines. And the occasional song.
Marshall is survived by his loving wife of 21 years, Jeanie LaMair Pengra, his son Mitchell Pengra, daughter Amy Pengra, son Dods Pengra and wife Kimberly, granddaughters Abigail (2) and Penny (2 months), all of Houston. He is also survived by his stepchildren, Jeannine Haizlip and husband Kelly of Houston, Trey LaMair and wife Elizabeth of Austin, grandchildren, Eddie Haizlip, Katherine Haizlip, John and Charlie LaMair. Also surviving are two nieces Paige Clarke and Penny Pengra, both of Los Angeles. Marshall is preceded in death by his parents and brother Mike Pengra of Washington, D.C.
A memorial service will honor Marshall at St. Martin's Church on Tuesday, April 15 at 2 p.m. Immediately following, all are invited to join the family reception in Bagby Parish Hall.
In lieu of customary remembrances and flowers, contributions to St. Martin's Church Outreach or Brookwood Community are welcomed.
Published in Houston Chronicle from Apr. 12 to Apr. 14, 2014
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