John Kay Cummings, 84, of Highlands, passed away Tuesday, October 30, 2018, at Cedar Bayou Rehabilitation Center in Baytown.
John was born February 4, 1934 in Deleon, Texas to parents Ruth Kay and William Andrew “Buck” Cummins. A 40-year-resident of Highlands, he and his wife Florence started their family in 1957 in Coady where they lived until 1976. A US Army veteran, he served in Korea, attended Lee College, and was a retired warehouse superintendent for Exxon.
John was raised in Central Texas, a land of peanuts, cotton, and watermelon farms. His father was a brick mason and well digger, jobs that John and his brother helped him with. As a helpful son, he learn practical lessons about physics, machinery, and engineering, skills that served him well all his life. John joined the Army at 17 and was assigned to the construction battalion that built a bridge over the Imjin River between North and South Korea. Once home from military service, John quickly married his fiancé Florence Teten. John did everything from hauling hay to driving a propane delivery truck during those early years. Within four years, John and Florence had saved enough money for a down payment on a wood-frame house to be built on West Cedar Bayou Lynchburg Road in 1957. They moved in just one week before the birth of their first child, Susan. By 1961, John was driving a truck for Humble Oil and Refining Co. In 1962, a son was born, Keith. And then Alan came along four years after that. Once Alan arrived, the family was complete, and John continued to rise within the company that eventually became Exxon. While raising his family, John made certain that needs were met and enrichment provided. He even built two campers that the family used for fishing trips at Lake Sam Rayburn and cross-country trips to visit family in California, Illinois, Ohio, and Delaware. Eventually, the campers were traded in for deluxe travel vans that hauled the family across Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado. No trip was complete without John collecting a rock or two to commemorate the trip. His fascination with geologic formations led to a rock collection that eventually took up much of the back patio. When he wasn’t helping his in-laws raise and bale hay in Hardin or doing all the home repairs for his family, John loved to fish. He was just as skilled with a cane pole as a rod and reel, and taught his kids how to fish with a cork or a tight line. Of course fishing is always more fun with a boat, so eventually John and Florence purchased as series of modest v-bottom boats that he improved with additional seating and safety features. John’s mom was the daughter of a minister and a pianist for her churches. That musical environment nurtured his innate talents. He taught himself to play guitar and piano. The Cummings house was always filled with music from instruments he or his children played or from the stereo. Once his musical talents became known to neighbors and friends in Coady, he was tapped to lead music services at Coady Baptist Church occasionally. Eventually he served as a deacon in the church and, using those skills learned at his father’s side and in the Army, he assisted with the church’s expansion. When he retired in 1986, John devoted himself full-time to the family farm in Hardin where he and Florence raised cattle and grew hay. For the next 30 years of his life, his love of the outdoors and animals - cows, dogs, cats, anything with fur - never wavered. Stray cats and dogs were seldom stray for long because John made sure they were fed and sheltered. Retirement also allowed John time to think about many things - family, life, nature, and his faith. In his late 60s, he rededicated his life to the Lord and trusted Him with everything. Crediting God’s grace with giving him the willingness and strength to leave alcohol and give back his life back to God was important to John; it was a subject he was very open about. He frequently told folks that all would be well “If the creeks don’t rise and the Lord is willing”. Rising from poverty to serve his country and then attain a position that allowed him to raise a family and become a respected leader, John lived his version of the American Dream.
Mr. Cummings was preceded in death by father, W.A. Cummins; mother, Emma Ruth Kay Cummins; brother, William Andrew Cummins, Jr.; sister Bonnie Cummins Kidd and husband Jessie Kidd; Martha Allene Cummins Fisher and husband Wyman Fisher; brother-in-law Lee Ed “Tuffy” Teten and wife Ada Lou Knowles Teten; sister-in law Mary Teten Griffin and husband Clifford Griffin, brother-in-law Harry Teten and wife Marie; sister-in-law Grace Teten Schieck and husband Charles Schieck; brother-in-law Bill Myers; and nieces Teresa Myers Franklin and Elinda Fay Kidd Wetz. He is survived by his wife, Florence Teten Cummings; one daughter, Susan Kay Cummings and husband Gary Ervin; two sons, John Keith Cummings and wife Deanne Schustereit Cummings, and Alan Trent Cummings and wife Holly Pounds Cummings; one sister, Shirley Cummins Myers; four grandchildren, Ian Cummings and wife Shelby, Austin Sheley, Bryon Cummings, and Travis Cummings; and one great-grandchild, Denver Bryce Cummings. Other survivors include nephews Charles Cummins, Jesse H. Kidd Jr. and wife Ada, Albert Wetz, Butch Wetz and wife Amanda, Randy Myers and wife Dannah, Steven Frank Fitzgerald and wife Duaine; Bert Griffin and wife Linda; and Calvin Griffin. Surviving nieces are Brenda Myers Irby and husband Dan, Jerrilyn Fisher, Gaye Wetz and husband Chris Powell, Alice Wetz, Connie Griffith McMillan and husband Rocky, Elizabeth Cornish, Helen Marie Teten Hanson. Surviving cousins include Howard Christopher Ayrhart III and Eddie Glass.
The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 pm Monday, Nov. 5, at the Crespo & Jirrels Funeral Home Chapel. Funeral services will be held 10 am Tuesday, Nov. 6, at the Crespo & Jirrels Funeral Home Chapel in Baytown, with interment following at Hardin Chapel Cemetery in Hardin.
The family asks those who wish to honor John’s life to donate to the Alzheimer’s Association, A Life to Live animal rescue (www.adopttosave.org), or their charity of choice.