Arthur Wallace Peach Birthday Celebration
Norwich University recently observed the 120th anniversary of the birth of Arthur Wallace Peach, a distinguished member of the college's English department from 1913-1950. Organized by English Dept. Chair Professor Patricia J. Ferreira, in collaboration with the Norwich University Office of Communications and Sodexho Food Services, the occasion was marked by a public reception held in Milano Ballroom on the afternoon of February 20. Key note speaker J. Kevin Graffagnino, director of the Vermont State Historical Society, delivered a talk on Peach's life, followed by refreshments.
Arthur Wallace ("Pop") Peach
February 19, 1886 - July 21, 1956
Peach joined Norwich as a faculty member in 1913, becoming the first English department chair at Norwich University, a position he held for 37 years. A prolific writer and poet, passi onate Vermont historian and dedicated mentor to his students, Peach, affectionately known as "Pop", was instrumental in transforming what were then meager course offerings in literature into an English major at the University. A modern Renaissance man, he also coached the football and debate teams, was an avid outdoorsman, and played cello in the Musical Club String Orchestra. The 1918 War Whoop is dedicated to him.
After retiring from Norwich in 1950, Peach became director of the Vermont Historical Society, a position he held until his untimely death of a heart attack at age 70. During his six-year tenure as the Society's top administrator, VHS membership more than quadrupled, growing from 800 to 3600. Among his projects as director was the recording of the voices of Vermonters for the "Vermont Living Archives." In his retirement he also organized the "251 Club of Vermont," comprised of persons who had visited all 246 towns and cities, plus the five unorganized towns in the state.
Peach was nothing less than a luminary in the state of Vermont. Notable among his accomplishments (far too numerous to mention here) are editing a four-volume collection of Vermont prose, poetry, biography and folk songs; chairing the state's Sesquicentennial Commission in 1941; authoring a literary column for Vermont Life magazine; and serving as committee chairman for the Vermont Commission on Country Life. He also co-founded the Authors League of Vermont (now the League of Vermont Writers) and served as president of the Poetry Society of Vermont and the Better Library Movement, which created the regional library system still in operation today.
His scholarly achievements notwithstanding, Norwich alumni of all generations may perhaps best remember "Pop" for having penned the words to Norwich Forever! the University's alma mater.
In summing up this historic Vermont figure, Graffagnino said, "It seems to me that Pop Peach epitomizes the best qualities of the Vermonters of his generation--in his devotion to the state, his tireless efforts on Vermont's behalf, and his many contributions to Vermont scholarship in the literary and historical fields that interested him."