Arthur Wallace “Pop” Peach was a native Vermonter to the bone, once describing himself as “hopelessly provincial.” He was born and raised in southern Vermont, graduating from Brattleboro High School and then from Middlebury College in 1904. He earned his PhD from Columbia University and later received two honorary degrees from Norwich, a master’s in 1933 and a doctorate in 1950.
Peach joined the Norwich University faculty to teach literature in 1913, eventually serving as chair of the English department for many years. But his influence at Norwich extended far beyond his academic appointment. In 1915 and 1916, he penned the lyrics to “Norwich Forever,” cementing a place in the memory of every cadet. A decade later, he also wrote the lyrics to a “Norwich Hymn,” which was intended to replace the first song, but never became as popular.
Early in “Pop” Peach’s career, he coached the Cadets football team. After leading them to win the state championship in 1918, his team presented him with an engraved trophy as a token of gratitude, and the 1918 War Whoop was dedicated in his honor. Professor Peach was also, at various times, active in the Musical Club Orchestra and the university’s debate team.
In addition to teaching, coaching, and mentoring an estimated 5,000 Norwich students over his 37 years on the faculty, Peach maintained an active career as an author, poet, and participant in Vermont’s civic life. He co-founded the Authors League of Vermont and was its first president; helped establish the 251 Club, which encourages its members to visit all 251 towns in Vermont; and served on the Vermont Historic Sites Commission and Vermont Sesquicentennial Commission, to name but a few of his civic accomplishments.
Peach retired from Norwich in 1950 to assume the position of director of the Vermont Historical Society. He was an avid hunter and fisherman. In 1956, he suffered a heart attack during a meeting of the board at the Pavilion Hotel in Montpelier and passed away at Heaton Hospital. More than 250 people attended his memorial service at the Unitarian church the following week.