KILLEEN, Texas — Before the Killeen Kangaroos faced off against the Chaparral Bobcats for the start of the 22-23 football season, the district dedicated the new field to a trailblazing graduate.
Whenever you pull up to Killeen's brand new regional stadium you will find the name Joseph L. Searles III. Searles was one of a handful of people chosen to desegregate Killeen High. He was the president of the science club and graduated as a proud Kangaroo in 1959.
Friends who knew him best say he was a man of many firsts. After his time in Killeen, he continued to further his education and remain involved in every community he called home.
Robert Lawrence a longtime friend of Searles said, "We as young men need a foundation, and he got a foundation right here in Killeen."
Another friend Albert White said, "Joseph was the first African-American to receive a seat on the New York Stock Exchange and this goes back to 1969,1970. The history of him being a football player at Kansas State."
Searles was dedicated to his education and sports. He played football for Pratt Junior College in Kansas and later for Kansas State University. Searles graduated from Kansas State with a degree in political science.
Searles went on to become the Vice President of the Public Finance Division at Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company, a company we now know as J. P. Morgan Chase. He also held other positions in federal, state, and municipal agencies in housing.
No matter where life took him, Searles never forgot his love of the city of Killeen. That love, he passed on to his daughter.
"I feel like I’m home," said Courtney Snowden. "I truly feel like this is just another extended home now that his name is being honored in a place that raised him. This is just another thing to be proud of another thing to try and live up to and bring honor to his name."
Snowden said her father was an icon, who poured his heart and soul into everything he did. It's that kind of grit and determination that KISD Superintendent Dr. John Kraft said is one of many reasons why the board of trustees chose Searles' name to adorn the front of the district's new stadium.
"Searles was just not only a phenomenal athlete being a professional football player as well but he did great things in every community that he touched," said Craft. "It’s a reminder to our students that you can go onto greatness you can go on and do great things and trail-blaze."
Joseph L. Searles III passed away in 2021, but his legacy will now and forever be cemented in the fabric Killeen ISD.