Ole Miss

Published on February 21st, 2022 | by University of Mississippi


Honoring a Grandfather and Rebel Fan: Gate Naming Reflects Peck Family’s Support of Ole Miss Student-Athletes

A $250,000 gift to the University of Mississippi from Betty Peck, 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 the family name on entrance Gate 37 of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

“Seeing that would bring tears to his eyes,” said Peck, of Long Beach, referring to her husband, Patrick Barry “Pat” Peck, who died August 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), 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,” said Hodges, a 2013 graduate of the UM School of Business Administration. “It represents our family as a whole – everybody who’s part of the Pat Peck family.

“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, 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,” he said.

By Bill Dabney

Betty Peck stands in front of the entrance gate at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium that honors her family. Photo courtesy Peck family
Jonathan Hodges, grandson of Betty and Pat Peck, competes as an Ole Miss student-athlete. Photo courtesy Peck family

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The University of Mississippi, affectionately known as Ole Miss, is Mississippi’s flagship university. A member of the elite group of R1: Doctoral Universities - Highest Research Activity by the Carnegie Classification, Ole Miss has a long history of producing leaders in public service, business, academics and the professions. Its 16 academic divisions include a major medical school; nationally recognized schools of accountancy, law and pharmacy; and an Honors College acclaimed for a blend of academic rigor, experiential learning and opportunities for community action. Acclaimed as one of the nation’s most beautiful, Ole Miss's main campus is in Oxford, which is routinely recognized as one of the nation's best college towns.

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