'A local legend.' Former Hilton Head Island Mayor Tom Peeples dies (2024)

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  • By Jessica Wadejwade@postandcourier.com

    Jessica Wade

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'A local legend.' Former Hilton Head Island Mayor Tom Peeples dies (4)

HILTON HEAD ISLAND— Tom Peeples' legacy can be seen across Hilton Head Island.

The longtime town leader began his political career as a member of Town Council in 1989 and was re-elected twice before running for mayor in 1995. Peeples became the first Lowcountry native to serve as mayor, staying in that role for 15 years until he stepped down in 2010. He remains the only person to hold the position for more than one term.

Peeples died of health complications April 20 following a planned spinal surgery. He was 71.

Before he served in public office, Peeples took part in philanthropic and volunteer efforts on the island. He coached little league, raised his son with his wife, Mary Ann Peeples, and operated his home-building company, Tom Peeples Builder.

"One of the things I learned from him is that charity is not about writing the check, it's about doing the work, and I think he really lived that, said Peeples' son, Josh Peeples. "He was genuine in everything he did."

'A local legend.' Former Hilton Head Island Mayor Tom Peeples dies (5)

In his time as mayor, Peeples steered the town through an era of significant growth. He introduced an Island Capital Improvement Plan and put a real estate transfer fee in place, an initiative that generates an average of $4.2 million each year and is dedicated to the Land Acquisition Program.

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He helped support the Tax Increment Financing District, which brought $150 million in upgrades to the island’s drainage, parks, pathways, fire stations and secondary roads. He was also instrumental in creating Hilton Head Island parks and open space master plan, which protected and preserved the Honey Horn and the Coastal Discovery Museum sites.

"His fingerprints, in a lot of ways, are all over Hilton Head," Josh Peeples said.

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  • By Jessica Wadejwade@postandcourier.com

The Land Acquisition Program was one of Peeples proudest accomplishments, Josh Peeples said. The program is a preservation and growth management effort that has acquired over 300 individual properties comprised of over 2,000 acres.

"Tom Peeples helped lay a foundation for the Island we know and love today,"Mayor Alan Perry said in a statement shared April 23.

"He did everything he could to not just build for that future but also protect the natural environment that makes Hilton Head Island so special," Perry said. "(Peeples) was a lifelong friend and someone whose counsel, advice and personality have helped shape me as a mayor and a person. He was truly a local legend and will be missed dearly.”

A celebration of life is planned from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 30, at Honey Horn on Hilton Head Island.

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Jessica Wade

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'A local legend.' Former Hilton Head Island Mayor Tom Peeples dies (2024)
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