As part of Central Library’s “The Golden Age of Sports Journalism: Grantland Rice and Fred Russell” exhibit, Walker Library is proud to present our corresponding satellite exhibit, “Ralph ‘Peck’ Owen.” The display features a 1920’s Vanderbilt football jersey similar to what Peck would have worn during his time on the team, and two pictures of Peck as a young businessman and football player.
Peck attended Vanderbilt University from 1924-1928. He was a great sportsman, turning down offers to play professional baseball for the Washington Senators and Chicago Cubs and playing football under Coach Dan McGugin. Peck graduated in 1928, and married Lulu Estelle Hampton Owen in 1929. He and Lulu had two children, a son, Ralph, Jr., and daughter, Melinda, and stayed married until Peck’s death.
After graduating from Vanderbilt, Peck accepted a job with the Fourth and First National Bank, working in their bonds department. By 1930 Peck had helped found Equitable Securities Corporation, a Nashville-based investment banking company that sold municipal bonds throughout the South. In 1943 Peck was appointed Vice-President of Equitable, and in 1952, with the death of co-founder and President Brownlee O. Currey, to the position of President. Peck served as President until 1968, when the company merged with American Express. In 1960 Peck was appointed both to the Vanderbilt Board of Trust and to serve as Chairman of the Board of American Express.
Peck and Lulu were also in numerous other organizations and corporations. Peck served as a trustee of Montgomery Bell Academy and held executive positions at Nashville Gas Company, Tennessee Natural Gas Lines, and Tennessee Consolidated Coal Company, among others. He gave generously to many Vanderbilt and Nashville institutions, including the Nashville Friends of the Library, the Vanderbilt University Club, the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, the National Commodore Club, and Vanderbilt’s McGugin Athletic Center. In 1977, the Owen Graduate School of Management was named in honor of Peck and Lulu Owen after a significant donation from both of their estates.
Stop by and see the exhibit during normal library hours!