(RUTHERFORD COUNTY, TN) It was 80-years ago today (7/20/2023) that gyrations were discovered in nearby Maury County. It took decades before officials discovered the cause of those pelvic movements. More about that later.
His parents dubbed him Robert Paul Peach, but he preferred Dick and that’s what the thousands whom he has helped over the years know him by today. And yes, even at 80—he has not slowed down from helping others.
After high school, Dick attended MTSU for several years. About the same time the song “All American Boy” topped the charts—the one with the line "Uncle Sam needs you. . .”
It was 1964 and Dick answered the call to the United States Army where he went to Ft. Leonard Wood in Missouri. That’s where he met the love of his life, Cecilia—now in their golden wedding years, over 50!
It was 1967 when Dick moved to Decatur, Illinois and began his career in law enforcement with the Decatur Police Department. After spending some time on patrol during an exciting historical period of civil rights, he was promoted to a division where he could utilize his unmatched ability to communicate positively with young people. He served as the official “Officer Safety,” which was a position utilized in the 1970’s to promote safety for school aged children.
The crescendo for him in his career in Illinois occurred with his assignment to Eisenhower High School as the school liaison officer. Little did Dick realize it, but that was about two decades before School Resource Officers were born.
After moving back to Columbia, Tennessee in 1980, Dick worked several jobs.
However, he eventually returned to the career that he loved--law enforcement.
He was employed for a time as a deputy with the Maury County Sheriff’s Office, but his strengths and passion was working with youth.
Dick learned about the School Resource Officers program at the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office.
Again, Dick packed up and moved to Rutherford County after receiving a job offer from longtime Sheriff Truman Jones.
This revisited career was exactly what he had been missing and he jumped into the role with both feet. He was the SRO for Central Middle School, Lascassas Elementary, Cedar Grove Elementary, Smyrna Elementary, Smyrna Primary and Stewartsboro Elementary, where he also participated as assistant coach for school basketball teams.
Former Sheriff and WGNS daily talk show host for over a decade Truman Jones noted, “I remember that Dick had a gift to reach out—he loved to entertain, and became well known for his Elvis impersonations. Over the years, he has calmed youngsters and adults who had mountains to climb.”
Truman noted that Rutherford County had one of the first SRO programs in the nation. In fact, law enforcement agencies visited here to learn how the unique new program worked.
During his career with the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, Dick would be the first to participate in the Torch Run every year in support of Special Olympics, serve at Cops and Lobster Wings and Rings and the SRO Rodeo, among other charitable events throughout his career from 1998 to 2013.
Town of Smyrna’s Attorney Jeff Peach, Dick’s son, said, “Dad has been the epitome of a father and police officer during my lifetime, which led to my nearly two decades in law enforcement as a result. In my opinion, it would be difficult to find another like him that displayed such attentiveness to his students and their well-being; which still will never compare to the level of a role model he has been for my brother, Todd, and I. He is unselfish with his time, devoted to helping others, and will go above and beyond to cause a smile from those from 5 years old to 95 years of age.”
Jeff continued, “His service didn’t stop when he retired from law enforcement, which was not easy for him by the way, because he continues to visit nursing homes and serves as a compassionate greeter at a local funeral home. I do think that he missed one calling, which would have been a physical education teacher. There has rarely been a week in his lifetime that he wasn’t running, lifting weights or swimming--he continues to do that at the YMCA even now. He is in better physical shape at 80 than I was at 25!”
Truman smiled, “I remember those Torch Runs from 940 New Salem Road to MTSU, they were long and the torch was heavy—Dick was always there. We have good memories that also included daily exercise runs and workouts.”
Most importantly, to this day, children and adults of all ages will still holler out “Officer Peach!” when they see him at the grocery store, at a public park or the occasional Cracker Barrel visit. Some even quote back to him his famous reminder “Wear Your Seatbelt”!
Truman mentioned Dick’s talents that continue to allow him to help others. Re-enacting “The King of Rock’n Roll” enabled him to help others even more.
The former sheriff quipped, “Dick would suddenly fill a room with excitement, and people forgot their worries.”
Turning 80 hasn’t slowed the gyrations, in fact just a few months ago Dick shared a message with the Rutherford County Historical Society while doing his Elvis act.”
When you look up SRO in Webster’s Dictionary, it should show Officer Dick Peach. There have been a limited number of law enforcement members with the true passion, demeanor, and desire to improve the positive interaction between young people and the police at the level he strove to achieve. His honest concern and care for every one of his students was undeniable and continues to be the most fulfilling part of his life. The Sheriff’s Office recognized this as well and they have created an annual award for existing SRO’s to receive for similar behavior in addressing the job as a School Resource Officer. His service to his Country, his community and the young people of Rutherford County will serve as a beacon for others for years to come and the countless hours of thoughtful advice to his students will live on through them the rest of their lives.
On behalf of his family, his son Jeff commented, “There were times that his ‘police mind’ was not as advantageous to my brother and me in our youth. He knew how young teens processed decision making, especially when it came to driving vehicles when we weren’t technically (that would be because of the law) supposed to be driving. During our parents absence one Saturday upon curiously opening the door to the family vehicle, I surprisingly discovered a large note taped across the steering wheel that read ‘THINK ABOUT IT, DON’T DO IT’. It seemed he was a step ahead of us. While, of course, my brother and I are grateful for his life lessons and all of the love he has shown us for well over 50 years; we are especially thankful for his lifelong devotion to his wife, and our mother, Cecilia, for 57 years. We wish you the best 80th birthday dad, and celebrate all that you are.”
As Officer Peach turns 80 today (7/20/2023), this community celebrates with you and thanks you for the unwavering service and dedication that you continue to share. And as the King of Rock’n Roll might have said, “A hunk-a, hunk-a burn’n love to you”!