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Scholarship established in honor of Catawba’s Carolyn Peeler

SALISBURY — Carolyn Eichler Peeler is officially pondering her retirement from the Catawba College development office, although no firm dates has been set for leaving her employer of the past 40 years. But in early summer, she received an enduring surprise that will most certainly help her mark her tenure at the college that is also her alma mater.

During a development office staff meeting that included 1961 Catawba alumnus Dr. W. Guy Rich, Peeler, who graduated in 1968, learned that Rich had established and fully funded an endowed scholarship fund in her honor. The announcement caused the longtime development director to fight back tears as she heard the news.

Peeler, who during her time at Catawba had helped hundreds of individuals direct their gifts and fund scholarships like the one established in her name, had known nothing about it.

“Carolyn Peeler is one of my favorite people at Catawba,” Rich shared, while Peeler’s coworkers looked on, most as surprised as she was by the announcement. “She is a great person. I ran out of time and Carolyn was retiring and she was getting away from me, and I said, ‘Okay, pull the trigger,’ and I did.”

“I don’t know what to say.” Peeler said in response, then added, “Thank you so much, Guy. I cannot tell you how much this really means to me.”

“You’re very deserving, Carolyn. You are a special person, and I mean that,” Rich said, noting that Peeler would decide criteria governing the selection of recipients who would receive her scholarship.

And when Peeler did set those criteria, it was in her typical, no-nonsense, just get the job done fashion — the student receiving her scholarship must simply demonstrate financial need.

When Peeler came to work at Catawba in 1976 she joined the staff in development as a gift recorder. She held positions as director of gift records, associate director of development-administration and director of development services before accepting a position as assistant registrar in 1990. Just over a year later, Peeler returned to Catawba’s development office, promoted to assistant vice president for development and campaign manager.

For many alumni and friends of Catawba, Peeler has been a constant and revered fixture at the college, one who always remembered their names, their important details and who made them feel welcomed when they visited.

“Guy Rich could not have found a more perfect way to honor our friend Carolyn who has helped so many others establish scholarships at Catawba over the years,” said 1989 graduate Margaret W. Faust, assistant vice president of development and a longtime coworker of Peeler’s. She noted that Rich had been instrumental over the years in both establishing and spearheading fund-raising drives to establish endowed scholarship funds at the college.

Peeler makes her home in Granite Quarry with husband Robert. The two are parents of adult son Matthew, also a Catawba alumnus in the class of 1993, who is married to another Catawba alumna, Renita Smith Peeler, class of 1992.

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