William F. Peeler

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PEELER WILLIAM F. PEELER A mainstay in the newsroom of the old Washington Star, died February 12, 2012 peacefully at home after multiple long illnesses. Mr. Peeler served as sports editor of the Star from 1961 to 1971. He ended up as news editor, editing the front page and the A section for the paper's last five years. He worked almost 30 years for the Star. Mr. Peeler started his newspaper career in 1938 as a sportswriter for the Salisbury, NC, Post. He became Sports Editor the next year. He moved to the Greensboro Daily News as assistant sports editor in 1943 and six months later was named the telegraph editor. In 1945 he joined the Allentown (PA) Morning Call, where he spent four years as telegraph editor and three years as assistant city editor before moving to Washington. As Sports Editor he persuaded the management of the Star and Gen. Pete Quesada, then running the Senators, to sponsor a Knothole Club for youngsters. Some 53,000 membership applications were sent to the Star. The kids could attend games free on some Saturdays. After two seasons the program was dropped because too many parents dropped off youngsters and left, creating the possibility of liabilities. On several occasions in the 60's, Peeler served as discussion leader at Seminars for Sports Editors held at Columbia by the American Press Institute. A dramatic change occurred when Peeler expanded the Star's high school sports coverage to two full pages every Saturday. His good friend, Shirley Povich, head of the Washington Post sports operation, protested in private that Bill was creating a "monster". It was easy to understand his position, since much activity ended right on top of Post deadlines, while the Star would go to press the following morning. Forty years later the Post followed the Star's example. Peeler served for years as Commissioner of the Mt. Vernon-Lee Pioneer baseball league in Fairfax County. He belonged to the Grandstand Managers Club of Alexandria and was president for one term. He was also prepared to act as front-page editor for three newspapers because he had a keen interest in history, politics, and world affairs since a very early age. Peeler grew up in Salisbury, NC. He graduated from high school at 15 and from Catawba College at 19 in 1937 and planned to study law. However, the effects of the depression on the family business made that impossible, so he worked for a year as a housepainter. In 1938 his hometown paper asked him to work for the summer, handling baseball. For the next 44 years he kept learning and kept moving up. Peeler was an accomplished bridge player and also loved to play golf. His scores were quite ordinary, but he did manage to shoot two holes in one at Twin Lakes Golf Course in Clifton, Va. Privately he had agitated with Fairfax County officials for the construction of Northern Virginia's first public golf course - Twin Lakes. His 65 year marriage to Thelma Haas Peeler ended in May 2008 when she died of a stroke. He leaves his daughter, Anna Phillips of Wallace, NC; sons, James Peeler and his wife, Laura of Raleigh, NC and John Peeler and wife, Christine of Clarksburg, MD, and five granddaughters. Another son, Frederick Peeler, died in 2004. Services private.

Published in The Washington Post on Feb. 17, 2012
William F. Peeler
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Demaine Funeral Home
5308 Backlick Road | Springfield, VA 22151 | (703) 941-9428
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