A $250,000 gift to the University of Mississippi from Betty Peck of Long Beach, Mississippi — the grandmother of an Ole Miss Rebel — memorializes her late husband, honors her extended family and supports student-athletes.
The Ole Miss Athletics Foundation recognized Peck’s gift by placing their family name on entrance Gate 37 of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
“Seeing that would bring tears to his eyes,” said the donor referring to her husband, Patrick Barry “Pat” Peck, who died on Aug. 29, 2020. “He would be very happy and very honored.”
Peck said the gift is “a good fit” because her husband loved watching their children and grandchildren participate in sports.
“He was so active in the lives of our grandchildren (Patrick, Jonathan and Christopher Hodges of Memphis, Tennessee, and Conner and Carter Kelly of Biloxi, Mississippi), and I was trying to find ways to honor his being a good grandfather,” she explained. “All the grandkids go to the Ole Miss games, and he and I went several times through the years.
“Our grandsons have all been very active in sports. It just seems like Pat would want his money to support athletes.”
The Pecks’ grandson, Jonathan Hodges, ran track for Ole Miss, specializing in the high jump.
“We’re all very thankful for her gift. It represents our family as a whole — everybody who’s part of the Pat Peck family,” said Hodges, a 2013 graduate of the UM School of Business Administration. “Whenever we go to games, walk through the Pat Peck Family Gate and sit in that section, it will be special for us because we’ll always remember our grandfather and how much he meant to us.”
Pat Peck served in the U.S. Air Force before beginning a lifelong career in automobile sales and service. As owner of Pat Peck Inc., he operated dealerships throughout Mississippi and in Mobile, Alabama. He received several awards for Top Dealer with Nissan, Honda and Kia. An active member of First Baptist Church of Gulfport, Mississippi, he also enjoyed boating, sport fishing, working, helping others and spending time with his family.
“Gifts like Mrs. Peck’s help to strengthen our programs and facilities, giving our student-athletes a top-level experience at Ole Miss,” said Fowler Staines, CEO of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation. “We are so grateful to the Peck family for all they have given to Ole Miss Athletics over the years, throughout their different generations, and we are pleased to be able to honor them.”
Hodges said his family is eager to see what the future holds for Rebel football.
“We’re all huge Ole Miss fans and we’re looking forward to seeing the program continue to grow and hopefully win some championships soon.”
For more information on how to support Ole Miss Athletics, visit http://givetoathletics.com or contact Fowler Staines, chief executive officer and chief financial officer of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 662-915-1143.
By Bill Dabney/UM Foundation