Jack Peeples, 93

Jack Peeples is a people person.

Being an only child, Jack says, “forces you to reach out and make connections.”

Jack was born in Arkansas to young parents and moved to Miami when he was seven months old. His father was a U.S Marshall and arrested both Capone and Hoffa. After high school, Jack attended the University of Florida then enlisted in the Army and spent six months at Officer Candidate School before he was sent to Korea. He served as a Rifle Company Commander and earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.

After the war, he returned to Gainesville to pursue a law degree and met his future wife. A fellow fraternity brother bragged that he was going to invite “the prettiest girl in Tallahassee” to a party when Jack stole away to ask her to be his date. When the fellow found out Jack beat him to the punch, Jack exclaimed “You’ll learn not to brag about the best-looking girl!”

While earning his law degree, Jack was introduced to Governor LeRoy Collins when the governor came to honor the young Korean War vets. That encounter would change the course of Jack’s life. Governor Collins asked if Jack would campaign for him. He and his fellow veterans did and Collins was reelected.

After earning his law degree, he and his bride moved to Tallahassee.  He worked in a law firm before being tapped to run Governor Collins’ 1959 legislative session. Jack got busy helping the governor push through ambitious and historic legislation, including vetoing the segregation bill. After that, the governor appointed Jack as State Beverage Director, a title that had the weight of law enforcement back in 1960.

Jack’s personality and negotiating skills served him well in helping to reduce homelessness in Miami after Governor Chiles saw a homeless encampment. He’s also been recognized multiple times by the Sierra Club for the conservation work he’s done around the state. Jack Peeples Park in Punta Gorda was dedicated to him in honor of the land he helped conserve at Babcock Ranch.

He has two groups he meets with regularly. The first call themselves the “Has Beens” – a group of local high-profile men who’ve sort of retired. The second is a group of veterans who meet for special occasions and have military-themed gatherings where they discuss Iwo Jima, Pearl Harbor, and the like.

Jack says the best advice he ever received was at OCS graduation. “Keep your socks dry and watch out for mines.” Jack interprets this to mean “be prepared, take care of the details, and avoid being stupid.” This advice has served him well in his 65-year law career – he’s still practicing law!

Jack has two sons, Grant and Winn, whom were raised both in Miami and in Tallahassee. Jack has one grandson, Jordan, and one great granddaughter, Sadie, whom he adores. His bucket list includes spending more time with his loved ones.