Ralph Alexander Peeples ’73

Ralph Alexander Peeples passed away early in the morning of Friday May 12th. He was 71 years old. He had received a diagnosis of Stage IV lung cancer in late 2021, and died as a result of complications.

Ralph was best known locally as a faculty member of the School of Law at Wake Forest University, as the president of council of Parkway United Church of Christ in Winston-Salem, and as the legal advisor for the SHARE Cooperative, a local non-profit.

Ralph was born October 18, 1951 to Rita and Ralph Sr., in Charleston, S.C. He attended Blessed Sacrament Elementary School, Bishop England High School, Davidson College, and New York University Law School. Ralph was a National Merit Scholar, a Dana scholar at Davidson, and was a recipient of the prestigious Root-Tilden scholarship at NYU. At Davidson, Ralph was elected president of the Student Government Association, and was active in the anti-war movement.

Upon graduation from NYU he worked for the firm of Squire, Sanders, & Dempsey in Cleveland, Ohio. He joined the faculty of Wake Forest in 1979, and retired from teaching in 2018.

His career at Wake Forest was a distinguished one. He was the four-time winner of an Excellence in Teaching award, and served as Associate Dean of Academic Affairs of the law school from 1995 to 2000. He established a reputation as one of a small group of scholars nationwide who used statistical and empirical tools to study and evaluate the outcomes of the legal system. Ralph was a leading advocate for simplifying and reducing the tremendous expense of legal proceedings for average citizens. To that end he was instrumental in establishing mediation practices in the state, a process which allowed numerous North Carolinians to avoid costly and lengthy court procedures.

His friends and students knew Ralph’s keen (and occasionally sardonic) sense of humor as well as his facility with an astonishing repertoire of Dad Jokes. His exam questions often featured plaintiffs and defendants with the unlikely names of Willie Nelson, Pete Townsend, Shoeless Joe Jackson, and Bert and Ernie, a particularly litigious pair. (To his knowledge, none ever sued for defamation).

Ralph is survived by his wife, Faith Crosby, and four children. Kate resides in Normal, Illinois, Sam in Black Mountain, N.C., and Emma and Michael, both of Greensboro. He is also survived by five siblings – Michael, Stephen, Julie, Martha, and Scott – as well as seven nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held at 3:00 pm on Sunday, June 4, 2023, at Parkway United Church of Christ in Winston-Salem, NC.

In lieu of flowers, we invite you to donate to one of these organizations using the search tool below, or directly at the following websites:

SHARE Cooperative of Winston Salem: https://www.share-ws.coop

The V Foundation: https://www.v.org