August 29, 2003 - COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Wilbur Herbert Peck, a long-time member of the United States Volleyball Association and president of the organization from 1971-79, passed away on Aug. 27 in Indianapolis, Ind., after a long illness. He was 73.
“For more than 50 years, Wilbur Peck provided leadership to the USVBA and—second only to Harold Friermood—may be the person most responsible for the decisions that led the sport out of the antiquated walls of the YMCA and into the modern Olympic family,” said USA Volleyball President, Al Monaco. “He was one of two people who attracted me to the USVBA over 40 years ago. His friendly personality and obvious personal integrity were so charismatic. He was a great ‘boss’ in those years, but most of all he was a great friend.”
“Wil Peck was president of the USVBA when I first became involved,” recalled USA Volleyball Chief Executive Officer, Rebecca Howard. “I was so impressed with Wil’s professionalism and positive image that my first experience became a lasting experience.”
Peck, who was inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame in Holyoke, Mass., in 1999, has been honored as a recipient of many USVBA awards throughout the years. They include: the Dr. Harold T. Friermood “Frier” Award (1980); the Harry E. Wilson Distinguished Service Award (2002); the George J. Fisher Leader in Volleyball Award (1964); and the William G. Morgan Founder’s Award (1979), along with several others.
“For 30 years he was ‘Volleyball’ with the U.S. Olympic Committee, playing a significant role in the organization of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and the 1987 Pan American Games in Indianapolis,” Monaco added. “It was one of my greatest joys the day that I participated in his induction into the Volleyball Hall of Fame. He will be missed by all of his Volleyball family, especially by me.”
Peck is also a member of the YMCA Volleyball Hall of Fame. He retired from the YMCA in 1994, but continued his active involvement in Volleyball. Peck was also the only president of the United States Volleyball Educational Foundation from its creation in 1973 until his death.
Peck, who was born on April 9, 1930 in Amsterdam, N.Y., embraced Volleyball as a part of his life forever, or so it seems. Joining the “Seniors” at the Amsterdam, N.Y., YMCA in 1942 was only the beginning.
In 1958 he began his 39-year career as a YMCA Director. He began that career as an Associate Physical Director at the Central Queens YMCA in New York City. Peck coached YMCA teams at the Central Queens and Grand Central YMCA’s, and his teams enjoyed success in USVBA competition.
In 1960, Peck attended the USVBA Nationals in Duluth, Minn., and was called upon to referee the men’s open finals between Hollywood YMCA and the Westside JCC. Hollywood was coached by Harry E. Wilson. At the conclusion of the championship, then-USVBA present Doug Boyden appointed Peck as National Officials Chairman to inaugurate his USVBA “career.”
Soon after, Peck was elected Secretary of the USVBA. In 1970, he was elected the sixth president of the organization and held that office until 1979.
During his terms as president, the USVBA moved on a mission to grow. A full-time paid staff leader was hired, Executive Director Al Monaco. The organization adopted a long-range plan aimed at the development of the USA as a world power in Volleyball. The National Team concept was initiated, became functional and the rest is history.
The selection of Wil Peck to succeed Dr. Harold Friermood as the USVBA representative to the USOC was a distinct honor. A “highlight of my life,” Peck once said. Serving for 25 years in that capacity, Peck became a power in the USOC. He served on two nominating committees, became chairman of the Membership Committee and was elected to the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee. He also served as the Chairman of the National Sport Governing Bodies Council for four years.
Peck is survived by his wife of 48 years, Florence, and two sons, Michael and Gary.