State Senator Robert A. Peck
Bob Peck was a multi-award-winning American politician,
journalist, editor, publisher, and Wyoming State Senator
The longtime newspaperman published a chain of newspapers
in communities across Wyoming and into Montana.
He was the founder of Central Wyoming College in his
hometown of Riverton, Wyoming, serving 15 years on its
board of trustees, and 14 as chairman. The Robert A. Peck
Arts Center on the campus of Central Wyoming College
is named in his honor.
Robert A. Peck
Biographical fast facts
Full or original name at birth: Robert Arthur Peck
Date and place of birth: October 7, 1924, Riverton,
Fremont County, Wyoming, U.S.A.
Date, time, place and cause of death: March 6, 2007,
at 12:51 p.m., Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, Cheyenne,
Wyoming, U.S.A. (Pneumonia/West Nile virus)
Spouse: Cordelia Ruth Smith (m. October 5, 1949 - February 17, 1996) (her death)
Sons: Christopher Peck (b. August 2, 1950, Lander, Wyoming)
Father: Leroy Ellsworth Peck (b. June 5, 1895 - d. February 25, 1954)
Mother: Elvira Eugenia Sostrom (b. September 7, 1901 - d. July 25, 1975)
Robert Arthur Peck was born to Leroy and Elvira Peck
October 7th, 1924, in Riverton, Wyoming. His career in
journalism began while writing and serving as editor of
the Riverton high school newspaper, known as The Big
Wind Echo. He later attended the National Journalism
Institute and won a scholarship to the Medill School
of Journalism at Northwestern University.
Bob Peck served in the U.S. Army (1943-45) during World
War II, attaining the rank of Staff Sergeant. Following
the war, he enrolled at the University of Wyoming in 1947,
and graduated two years later.
He met his future wife, Cordelia Ruth Smith, while attending
college. He recalled, "I met my wife, Cordelia, in Professor
Dickman's philosophy class." They married October 5th, 1949,
and went on to have three sons. Their son Steve Peck worked
in the newspaper business alongside his father and later
became co-publisher of the Riverton Ranger. Chris Peck
likewise went into journalism and became a noted journalist
In 1949, Bob and his brother, Roy (Leroy Eugene "Roy" Peck,
b. May 16th, 1922 - d. February 26th, 1983), purchased a small
weekly newspaper in their hometown which they renamed the
Riverton Times. When the Times later merged with the Riverton
Review, they moved to a twice-weekly printing schedule of the
newly-dubbed Riverton Ranger. In 1959, the Peck brothers
acquired full ownership of the paper. The following year
they transformed the Riverton Ranger into a daily newspaper.
The family newspaper business later expanded into a chain
of newspapers in nearly a dozen communities throughout
Wyoming and into Montana. Robert Peck's lifelong passion
and commitment to journalism led him to share his knowledge
via journalism classes at the University of Wyoming and
Central Wyoming College. He served on the boards of many
organizations including, Arts in Action, the Wind River
Arts Foundation, and the Margaret Peck Summer Theater.
He also served as president of the Wyoming Press Association,
and was later inducted into the Wyoming Press Association
Foundation Hall of Fame.
The respected newsman and civic leader was the driving
force in founding Central Wyoming College in 1966. Peck
served on the CWC Board of Trustees for many years and was
the Board's first president (1966-81). He was instrumental
in securing funding for the multimillion-dollar CWC
community arts center which was later named in his honor.
The college and particularly the Robert A. Peck Arts
Center became the cultural center for the region.
Initially appointed to the Wyoming Senate in 1991 to
succeed the late Frank Dusl, he was elected in 1992
and reelected to successive four-year terms in 1996,
2000 and 2004. Serving Senate District #26, the
Republican State Senator chaired the Senate Revenue
Committee, was a member of the Senate Education
Committee, as well as the Select Committee on Tribal
Relations, the Select Water Committee and the Energy
His nearly half-century marriage was brought to an abrupt
end when Cordelia died in a one-car accident February 17th,
1996, while on her way to a legislative session in Cheyenne.
Mr. Peck was a strong supporter of projects ranging
from historic preservation, medical and arts facilities,
and especially community-based education. It was he
who created the state's Historic Mine Trail. With mining
playing such a pivotal role in the growth of the state,
he developed the trail system to highlight its history
and importance to the area. "It dawned on me that a
huge part of Wyoming's mining past was vanishing into
the past," Sen. Peck said. Marking the history of several
gold, iron and uranium mines in central Wyoming, the
first trail in the state's new Historic Mine Trail was
designated in 2006.
August 19th, 2006, Senator Peck was hospitalized at Riverton
Memorial Hospital, having been diagnosed with West Nile virus.
That year, the majority of West Nile virus cases in Wyoming
had been there in Fremont County. As it frequently does, the
mosquito-borne virus gave raise to encephalitis, which further
weakened him and exacerbated his heart problems. By early 2007,
he was receiving treatment for pneumonia and a blood clot in
his lung at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, in Cheyenne,
Wyoming. He died March 6th, 2007, at 12:51 p.m., at the
Cheyenne Regional Medical Center.
Quotes honoring him:
"Senator Peck has added great wisdom and experience
to the Wyoming Senate in his four terms of service.
He had a unique perspective as a legislator who also
published his hometown newspaper and was particularly
gifted at representing the people of his Senate district.
He knew them well, and they were lucky to have him
in their corner for 17 years."
- Governor Dave Freudenthal
"He was such a fine gentleman, a true statesman and
a real visionary." "He and his entire family have
given a great deal to the Wyoming people, the state
and the Legislature."
- State Senator John Barrasso
"We're really going to miss him." "He was an excellent
- State Senator Charles Scott
"He strived for excellence in his newspapers and weaned
generations of journalists on his own brand of fairness
and accuracy." "He will be missed."
Wyoming Press Association President J.T. Malmberg
"I can't imagine a family that has given more to Wyoming ..."
"He lived a great life. He did so much. He's the only guy
I know who had a street named after him while he was still
alive and an auditorium at Central Wyoming College. Yet he
was so modest and so private."
- State Senator Cale Case
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