Bill Peeler Touched Lives Of Countless People

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 16, 2012

By Brian Pitts
Davie Enterprise Record

March 7, 2012 was a sad day in Davie County. Bill Peeler, a Davie High coaching legend, passed away at age 81.
It’s been 21 years since Peeler retired from teaching, so we need to educate younger generations about how important Peeler was to Davie. Once upon a time, Peeler was the heart and soul of Davie athletics. He was head coach in football, girls basketball and baseball – all at the same time and winning championships in each sport. He taught and coached at Mocksville High for two years. Then schools consolidated and Peeler spent 35 years at Davie.  
The respect for Peeler was enormous, and we’re talking about from opponents, too.
“There’s a lot of people who stay at one school their entire career but never touch the kids like he did,” Mike Carter said years ago. Carter coached at Salisbury before piloting Davie football from 1981-88. “You can ask people who went there 35 years ago and they’ll say they love him like a father.”
Before becoming a coach, Peeler was a fabulous athlete at Boyden (which is now Salisbury). He played in the 1950 East-West All-Star Football game. He was a football-baseball star at Catawba College, getting inducted in the Catawba Hall of Fame in 2001.
Peeler began his teaching career at Mocksville High in 1954. In the final year before consolidation, the spring of 1956, Peeler guided Mocksville’s baseball team to state runner-up.
Peeler worked at Davie from 1956-91. In the early years, he taught five classes of World History and coached football, basketball and baseball. For four years, he did all that – and served as athletic director. He became athletic director in 1966 and held the position until retirement in 1991.
Peeler was sharp and witty.
“I guess they picked me (as AD) because I knew how to line off the field, and they couldn’t find any other sucker to take it,” Peeler said in 1991.
When Peeler wasn’t teaching, it was easy to find him. He was on the tractor mowing the fields. Peeler and the tractor were constant companions.
“I learned how to do it real good, so if I ever got fired I’d have something to fall back on,” he said. “Really, they couldn’t fire me because I fixed the tractor myself. I was the only one who could start it.”
Peeler coached Davie baseball from 1957-70, going 91-78 and winning North Piedmont 3-A Conference championships in 1963 and 1965. The ‘65 team went all the way in the Western North Carolina High School Activities Association (the WNCHSAA folded in the spring of 1977 as Davie and about 30 other schools joined the NCHSAA). In the WNCHSAA final, Davie edged Shelby 1-0 before an overflow crowd at Rich Park.
Peeler coached Davie football from 1970-75, going 31-26-4. The ‘73 team captured a division title. It would be 11 years before Davie notched eight wins again.
But Peeler is best known for his 28-year stint (1960-88) as the Davie girls basketball coach. He built a powerhouse program. The list of accomplishments is a mile long.
• 17 NPC championships (regular season and tournament).
• 23 winning seasons.
• 20-plus wins eight times.
• A 445-220 record.
The War Eagles ripped off 13 straight winning seasons. After that streak was halted, Davie put up nine straight winning seasons.
Peeler’s 1978-79 team came an eyelash from winning the 3-A championship, losing 43-41 to Graham in the state final. Peeler’s 1981-82 team went 27-2, setting a record for wins that still stands.
Talk about consistency. Peeler’s record in the 1960s was 129-52. He was 167-72 in the 1970s. And he was 148-81 in the 1980s.
Of course, Peeler was a shoo-in for the Davie Hall of Fame, becoming a charter member on May 5, 2002.
Peeler was extremely modest for someone who achieved such a lofty status, always deflecting attention to his players.
“I was blessed,” he said in 2002. “I had some good players. If you don’t have the material, forget it. You can be the best coach in the world, but you’re not going to do anything if you don’t have the material.”
You know how people packed the gym for this year’s Davie boys games. That’s how it used to be when the Davie girls hit the court.
“You couldn’t get a seat in the gym, night after night,” Peeler said. “One year we had the conference tournament here, and we had to close the doors …