Graceland University Yellowjackets hall of famer Steve Peck ‘73 passed away peacefully at his home Tuesday, July 14, 2020, after an 11-year battle with kidney cancer. Peck was a loyal supporter of Graceland over the years and was inducted into the 2017-18 class of the Graceland Athletics Hall of Fame for his contributions and successes in the athletics department.
Peck came to Graceland College in 1969 from Richmond, California, where he was a standout two-sport athlete. He was selected by the San Diego Padres in the seventh round of the Major League Baseball draft that year, but he chose to attend college instead and made the move to Lamoni.
As a student at Graceland, Peck continued to play baseball and basketball, and was a four-year varsity letter-winner in both. He led the Yellowjackets in multiple pitching and offensive categories throughout his career, and in 1971, Peck helped lead the Yellowjackets to a Missouri College Athletic Union conference title in baseball with a record of 11-1. Also during his Graceland playing career, Peck was selected first-team all-conference and was twice selected all-district.
He graduated from Graceland in the spring of 1973 with a Bachelor of Arts in physical education, recreation and health, and then returned in 1974 as an assistant basketball coach and to earn a degree in elementary education. He later went on to receive a master's degree in special education from Northeast Missouri State University.
After receiving his master’s degree, Peck taught and coached at Lamoni High School for 10 years before spending 25 years at Raytown South High School in the Kansas City, Missouri, metro, where he taught special education and coached baseball, basketball and golf. Over the years, he received multiple coach-of-the-year awards, and he coached five high-school players who went on to play professional baseball. Peck retired from teaching in 2012, but he continued to coach baseball at Truman High School until 2018.
Throughout his life, Peck was always on the go. Besides playing golf, he loved fishing, watching old Westerns on TV, playing catch, riding bicycles with his kids, and sharing his knowledge and passion for sports and life. And he loved Graceland.
Brad Closson ‘86 met Peck when Closson was just a kid, and over the years, the two became good friends.
“Steve was a Graceland man. He loved to talk about his time on campus, and he enjoyed Lamoni so much that he stayed for another 15 years. His favorite hole on the Lamoni Golf Course was number two because it borders the sports fields and Big G. He loved to look over at Graceland and think about all the wonderful times he had there, both as a student and as a hall of fame player in basketball and baseball. Graceland was lucky to have such a wonderful person, coach and teacher. They don’t come better than Steve. He was amazing!”
Brad Closson '86
Graceland runs in the Peck family. Two of Steve’s children, Brad ‘09 and Sarah ‘17, are Graceland graduates, and his mother, Carolyn Andrews Peck, attended Graceland in the 1940s. Steve and his wife, Pam ‘80, have been loyal supporters of the university.
The family made a trip to Lamoni over the weekend of Oct. 17 and planted a tree in Steve’s honor. It’s on the Lamoni Golf Course – at hole two.
Peck was preceded in death by his father, Roy Peck. He is survived by his mother, Carolyn Andrews Peck of Blue Springs, Missouri; wife Pam Johnson Peck of Lee's Summit, Missouri; daughters Laura Peck of Saint Clair Shores, Michigan, and Sarah Peck of Lee's Summit, Missouri; son Brad Peck and his wife, Melanie Briend, and grandsons, Finn and James Peck, of Mission, Kansas; sisters Debra Trefz and husband, Bill, of Blue Springs, Missouri, and Lisa Peck of Seattle, Washington; and many other loving relatives and friends.