The Kenai Peninsula lost one of its most influential figures Wednesday. Clayton Brockel, the founding director of Kenai Peninsula College, died. He was 86.
Brockel was chosen as the first director of KPC in 1963. He had been an English teacher in the Kenai City School District. Working out of a 1963 Chevy sedan, he traveled the Peninsula, slowly building the infrastructure to provide post-secondary education on the Kenai.
“Believe me, his job, when he got here, to create the college was much more difficult than anyone who followed him,” said the college’s current director, Gary Turner.
“It’s a very difficult day for us. It’s the end of an era. Clayton was the founder of KPC…There’s only ever one founder. There’s only ever one first and that was Clayton. He was quite a man, he was quite a leader and we will really miss him,” Turner said.
Brockel’s experience and his continued involvement with the college have been invaluable over the past five decades.
“These jobs are not the easiest; there’s a lot of politics in these kinds of jobs. And Clayton had been there before. He was a guy I could believe in and trust he would provide me with the advice and suggestions and the recommendations that made my job easier. I don’t know how I would have managed without that.”
When the college, along with the Borough and the school district, celebrates its 50th anniversary next year, Brockel will be a focal point on the symbol that will mark the occasion.
Coins will be minted for all three and feature the likenesses of Brockel and also Harold Pomerory, the Borough’s first mayor, and Sterling Sears, the first superintendent of the school district.
Clayton Brockel is survived by his wife Jean. He was preceded in death by a son, John. Memorial services are pending.