Roger C. Peace | Legacy of Leadership Profile
A profile of Roger Craft Peace.
Roger C. Peace (1899 – 1968)
Roger C. Peace has the distinction of having been named to the Hall of Fame of the South Carolina Press Association and the South Carolina Business Hall of Fame.
The recognition by his peers in both journalism and business reveals a rare duality of careers. Not many reporters, writers, and editors who earn outstanding reputations in the newsroom also become successful in the executive offices as publisher, owner, and business entrepreneur.
Yet, Peace had another calling in which he excelled—public service. And his service ranged from the United States Senate to state government to every important community organization in his home city, Greenville.
Indeed, his greater legacy to the welfare of South Carolina was from his chairmanship during World War II of the state's Preparedness for Peace Commission. The commission presented a comprehensive plan that reorganized state government and created an agency for postwar industrial development that revolutionized South Carolina's economy.
Peace was an original member of the State Research Planning and Development Board when it was established in 1945. He remained a member until 1955.
Roger Craft Peace was born May 19, 1899, in Greenville, the son of Bony Hampton and Laura Estelle Chandler Peace. He was educated in the local public schools and worked as a reporter for The Greenville News while he was attending Furman University. In 1917, he left college for service in World War I. Afterward, he returned to college, graduating in 1919.
His father, who owned a profitable commercial printing plant, was business manager of The Greenville News, which was struggling financially. At the urging of his sons, Roger and Charlie, Bony Peace borrowed money to buy the newspaper. Roger was sports editor, then editor, and in 1924 was named business manager of The Greenville News.
Bony Peace and his sons acquired the afternoon newspaper, The Greenville Piedmont, in 1927, and put Greenville's first radio station, WFBC, on the air in 1932. WFBC later merged with other broadcast interests and put WFBC-TV on the air.
Roger Peace became publisher and president of The Greenville News–Piedmont Company after his father's death in 1934 and also held the title of editor. In 1954, The Greenville News–Piedmont Company bought the Asheville, North Carolina, daily newspapers and formed the Asheville Citizen–Times Publishing Co., which also owned WWNC.
The publishing companies and broadcasting entities were merged in 1968 to form Multimedia, Inc., which expanded into newspaper and television operations in Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee, and also into syndicated television shows. Peace was chairman of Multimedia until his death on August 21, 1968.
Peace's employees remember him as a warmhearted and unselfish man. A former managing editor of The News recalled that a severe illness struck the wife of one of his newsroom employees. "When Mr. Roger heard about it, he told me, 'I don't want that family to get any hospital, drug, or doctor bills. You arrange it so they go to Miss Minnie (the newspaper's treasurer).' "
He was a confidant of political leaders of his day and was a close friend of former Governor James F. Byrnes. In 1941, President Roosevelt appointed Byrnes, then a United States senator, to the Supreme Court of the United States. Governor Burnet R. Maybank then named Peace to the four-month interim term in the Senate.
The University of South Carolina awarded Peace an honorary degree in 1957. He was a longtime trustee and finance chairman of Furman University and a longtime trustee of the South Carolina Foundation of Independent Colleges. In 1965, the city of Greenville honored him with a testimonial dinner.
Peace also served on the boards of several companies and financial houses, including the People's National Bank of Greenville, Piedmont and Northern Railway, and the Greenville Community Hotel Corporation
He was instrumental in organizing the Greenville County Foundation, and he served as president of the Greater Greenville Chamber of Commerce and the Community Chest of Greenville.
He served as president of the South Carolina Press Association and as a board member of the Southern Newspaper Publishers' Association.
In late November of 1990, a large new concert hall, seating 2,100, across South Main Street from The Greenville News–Piedmont Company Building, was dedicated as part of the Peace Center for the Performing Arts. The Peace family had donated a substantial endowment for the center without conditions or reservations.
Peace was married in 1920 to Etca Tindal Walker, who died June 21, 1965. They were the parents of two children, Mrs. E. A. (Dorothy Ann) Ramsaur and the late Roger C. Peace, Jr. His second wife, Amy Newgren Peace, died September 19, 1967.
Peace was inducted into the South Carolina Business Hall of Fame in 1991.
© 1999 South Carolina Business Hall of Fame