Dr. Ide Peebles Trotter, Jr. left a blessed life to enter an even more blessed eternity in the glorious presence of the Creator God of the universe on April 4, 2023.
On October 27, 1932, he was born to Dr. Ide P. Trotter, Sr. and Lena Ann Breeze Trotter in Boone County Hospital, Colombia, Missouri. He got to Texas just as soon as he could when his father became Head of the Department of Agronomy at Texas A&M, and Ide enjoyed growing up initially right on and later nearby his beloved A&M campus. At nine years old, he professed faith in Jesus Christ to save his soul in the First Baptist Church of Bryan, and lost his fear of death but really didn’t make any progress toward maturity as a Christian. He graduated from Stephen F. Austin High School in Bryan, TX after enjoying success more than he deserved and beyond his wildest expectations in a breadth of areas, athletically starting two years in football, scholastically graduating Salutatorian, and politically serving as class president.
He enrolled at A&M with limited ambitions to take chemical engineering, because he had read that the highest starting salary of any graduate of MIT in the prior year was a chemical engineer. As a freshman, he was a member of the Fish Drill Team, because it was about as Aggie a thing as a freshman could do. He surprised himself by making all A’s and began to have a bit more ambition. As a sophomore, the good grades rolled on, he was elected to the Student Senate, and was eventually selected as the Outstanding Sophomore in the Corps of Cadets. As a junior, he served on the Corps Staff and was Secretary of the Student Senate. But much more importantly, through the influence of a friend, he started to attend Aggie Christian Fellowship, the IVCF Chapter at A&M. There he became aware that he was still a babe in Christ, and began to make necessary changes.
He was also made aware of greater depths to the experiences of life because he rediscovered a young lady, Luella Haupt, who he’d known as a little girl but who had now grown into a beautiful and accomplished young woman. As a senior, he was Corps Chaplain, President of the Student Senate, and graduated as valedictorian of his class with both a commission as a 2nd Lt. in the army and a National Science Foundation Fellowship to attend Princeton University. Most importantly, he had finally persuaded Luella to marry him just as soon as she could graduate from the University of Texas.
Princeton was an academic challenge for him at first, but after marrying Luella in 1956, he completed his Ph. D. and went to work in research for the Humble Oil and Refining Company until he had to complete his army service. Following service in the Chemical Corps School, Fort McClellan, Alabama, he returned to Humble in Baytown, TX. They were members of the First Baptist Church of Baytown, where Ide and Lu taught the Junior College Sunday School class.
Things went so well for him with Humble that he didn’t follow his original plan to return to academia as a professor. He was particularly pleased to have been part of the team that developed the first process computer system in the far-flung Standard Oil of New Jersey organization. This led to a year’s loan assignment with Esso Research and Engineering Co. in New Jersey. During this time, the family lived on a small lake in Mountain Lakes that was ideal for daughters Ruth and Arrenia (Reni), who had become part of the family. They were also part of a mission church being established by Madison Baptist Church (of which they were members).
He returned to Baytown in his first management assignment, where daughter Catherine (Cathy) joined the family. From there, he moved to Refining Headquarters in Houston, TX, then to Corporate Planning, and next to technical Manager and then Process Superintendent in Humble’s refinery at Billings, Montana. Here, the family acquired a love of mountains and skiing that continued throughout his life. Montana made it easy to enjoy the best fishing and hunting available. Rainbow trout, pheasant, deer and antelope all made their way to the family table.
During this time Humble transitioned to Exxon, and from Billings he moved on to higher levels of management responsibility. New York, to which he commuted from Stamford, Connecticut, and during which he served as Chairman of the Deacons of Greenwich Baptist Church. Tokyo, Japan, where he and Lu taught the adult couples Sunday School Class in Tokyo Baptist Church. Brussels, Belgium, where he served as Chairman of the Board of Deacons of the International Baptist Church, and from which he finished his Exxon career as Manager of Feedstock and Energy for Exxon Chemical International.
Taking Exxon’s golden handshake as he turned 54 in 1986, Ide and Lu made the decision to move to Dallas, TX. He also finally made his way back to academia as Dean of the College of Management and Free Enterprise and Professor of Finance at Dallas Baptist University (DBU). They joined the First Baptist Church of Dallas, where he served as Sunday School Department Director and was elected a Deacon in 1987. He served as Chairman of the Dallas Life Foundation, Dallas' largest homeless shelter. In that role Ide worked to expand its support to the wider Christian community. During this time the family was able to crown its love of the mountains by acquiring property almost surrounded by the San Isabel National Forest, 12 miles from Salida, Colorado. Their mountain cabin was completed in 1990 and has been the scene of joyful family gatherings every summer and almost every other Christmas ever since.
He left DBU in 1990 and immediately established Trotter Capital Management, Inc. to manage the investment affairs of a select group of clients. This also allowed him time to become actively involved with an issue of great importance to him, the misperceived conflict between science and religion. Serving as spokesman of Texans for Better Science Education since 2002, he was actively involved in reviews of high school biology textbooks, even testifying before the State Board of Education. He was also instrumental in helping establish the Trotter Prize and Endowed Lecture Series at Texas A&M University to recognize pioneering contributions to the understanding of the role of information, complexity, and inference in illuminating the mechanisms and wonder of nature, and to promote dialogue regarding the overarching implications in the religion-science debate.
Ide is survived by his daughters and their spouses, Ruth Penick and husband Jim Penick, Reni Pratt and husband Randall Pratt, Cathy Trotter Wilson and husband Kevin Wilson. “Grandad” is survived by his thirteen grandchildren, Joshua Penick and wife Natalie, Reni Penick, Daniel Penick, Sarah Penick, Rebecca Lear and husband Lucas, Jason Penick, Dale Hunt and wife Melissa and children, Ryan Pratt, Elizabeth Pratt, Natalie Pratt, Alexandra Pratt, Peter Wilson, and Josabeth Wilson. He is also survived by his brother Ben Trotter, and was predeceased by his beloved wife, Luella Trotter.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to:
Discovery Institute Center for Science and Culture:
Put Ide Trotter in the memo line and mail to: Discovery Institute, 208 Columbia Street, Seattle, WA 98104. For online donations: www.discovery.org/id/donate
Aggie Baptist Student Ministry, 203 College Main, College Station, TX 77840. For online donations: http://aggiebsm.org/give.
First Baptist Dallas and earmark for “International Mission Trips"; mail to First Baptist Church Dallas, 1707 San Jacinto, Dallas, TX 75201 or call FBC Dallas at (214) 969-0111