Hugh Herman Peoples ’66

Hugh H. Peoples, 71, died of complications from Parkinson’s Disease on April 17, 2015, at Arbor Acres Retirement Community in Winston-Salem.

Hugh was born November 30, 1943, in Goldsboro, North Carolina. His father, Hugh Edwin Peoples, was a member of the Armed Services stationed at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. He was studying law in 1949 at the time of his death, when Hugh was just six. His mother, Kathleen Herman Peoples, was a music teacher with expertise in violin and later a business owner. As Hugh put it, she was his “dearest friend, inspiration, role model, and practical advisor.”

Hugh graduated from Mount Airy High School in 1962. He received a B.A. degree in Economics from Davidson College, where he was inducted into the scholastic honorary society, Phi Eta Sigma. At Davidson, Hugh was chosen for honorary societies in creative writing, chemistry, and calculus. He played the violin with the Queens-Davidson Chamber Ensemble.

Upon graduation, he enjoyed a stint working alongside his mother, a part-owner and operator, at the Mount Airy Coca-Cola Bottling Company, founded in 1898 by her father and Hugh’s grandfather, B.E. Herman. Hugh went on to graduate from the University of North Carolina School of Law in 1974 and began the practice of law with the law firm of Neaves, Everett, Peoples, and Freeman in Elkin, N.C.

By 1980, Hugh had opened his own law practice in his hometown of Mount Airy, where he continued to practice law until his retirement. He was a “lawyer gentleman” who was steadfast in his devotion to clients and their cases.

In days gone by, Hugh served on the Administrative Board and the Board of Trustees of Central United Methodist Church in Mount Airy and on the Board of Directors of the non-profit United Fund of Surry. He was also a member of the Kiwanis Club for several years (serving as President of it for a short time) and a long-time member of the Mount Airy Rotary Club.

Hugh was a scholar at heart and had many varied interests throughout his life, including music, history, debate, philosophy, hiking, tennis, economics, and photography but his dry wit and story-telling ability were ever constant and never failed to entertain his friends and family. He was inevitably asked to offer a blessing or make the introductory statements at any formal or family gathering due to his ability to make such remarks funny yet meaningful.

Hugh is survived by his sister, Kathleen Lynne Peoples Tanner, and her husband, John T. Tanner, his niece, Kathleen P. Tanner Kennedy, and her husband, Robert M. Kennedy, Jr., and great niece, Claire Kathleen Kennedy; along with his nephew, John Peoples Tanner, M.D. and his wife, Avril R. Tanner, and great nephew, Luke Peoples Tanner, all of Raleigh. Hugh and his niece and nephew were very much a part of each other’s lives and all enjoyed the constant banter when they were together, each trying to “outdo” the other.

Of course, Hugh always won – his clever sense of humor was not easily matched. The three of them also shared a love of UNC and Carolina basketball, and Hugh and Kathleen, who followed in his footsteps to become an attorney, shared a love of the law. Two other special survivors are first cousins Doris Earle Herman Smith of Rocky Mount and John Herman of Blowing Rock.

A private memorial service will be held with interment at Oakdale Cemetery in Mount Airy. Condolences to the family may be addressed to The Tanner Family, 1024 Cedarhurst Dr., Raleigh, NC 27609.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Central United Methodist Church (1909 North Main Street) in Mount Airy.

In a final and wry exercise of his keen sense of humor, Hugh requested that his obituary conclude with an oblique reference to Elvis Presley: “Hugh Peoples has left the building.”

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