By Ben Donohoe
After 33 years of faithful service, Mrs. Diane Peck, Executive Assistant to the President of Loyola High School, will retire this month.
During her time at Loyola, Mrs. Peck has held several roles, including Assistant to the Assistant Principal, Assistant to the Dean of Men, Assistant to the Principal, registrar and school nurse.
Mrs. Peck was first introduced to the Loyola community when two of her three sons, Brian and Tom, current Event Operations Director and Freshman Baseball Coach, attended the school. Mr. Brian Peck graduated from Loyola in 1976, and Mr. Tom Peck graduated in 1985. As a parent Mrs. Peck said she was “so impressed by everything here [at Loyola].”
Mrs. Peck learned of a job opening at Loyola from a friend who declined an offer from the school but informed her of the job. “I thought it [job opening]was for volunteering. I was working for a pediatrician at the time as a nurse, but I was only working three days a week,” Mrs. Peck said. She eventually learned that the job was a full-time position, submitted an application and was accepted for the role.
When asked what it was like working at Loyola while her son was a student, Mrs. Peck laughed, saying, “At the time I was first hired, Father Gordon Bennett, who’s now Bishop Gordon Bennett, was principal, and he asked me the same question. I said, ‘You should ask Tom, my son, how he would feel.’ I said, ‘I don’t think it would bother me.’”
“It was a little weird having your mom work at the same school you go to. By the time I graduated, she was the dean’s secretary, so let’s just say I couldn’t get away with anything without her knowing,” Mr. Tom Peck said, laughing. “The funniest story that she used to tell people was I used to come in and get lunch money so I could go to what at the time was our Z’s [Zlicious].”
Mr. Tom Peck said, “People joke that she’s [Mrs. Peck] the one who actually runs the school, or at least the president’s office. She’s been here so long, and she’s done just about everything.”
In the past, Mrs. Peck has worked for several principals and presidents at Loyola, including the Rev. Robert Walsh, S.J.; The Most Rev. Gordon Bennett, S.J., ‘64; and Mr. Bill Thomason.
Father Walsh said that he feels like part of the Peck family because of Mrs. Peck’s kindness. Father Walsh said that he remembered when a Loyola student suffered a diabetic reaction and Mrs. Peck “rushed from her office to the classroom, and former nurse Peck fell into action and helped [the student]get the sugar he needed and get stabilized. [Mrs. Peck is] competence, care and concern all molded into one.”
When Mr. Bill Thomason, current Director of Alumni Relations at Loyola, was Dean of Men and Principal, Mrs. Peck worked as his assistant. Mr. Thomason said that working with Mrs. Peck was “incredibly easy. . . . [She was] a great worker, very organized. [She] kept me organized. It was a great relationship.”
Mr. Thomason has developed a close friendship with Mrs. Peck over the years and said that Mrs. Peck will be remembered in the Loyola community for “being a wonderful, kind person that’s there to support everybody. . . . She’s a wonderful person that does some wonderful things.”
Mrs. Peck also works with campus ministry on a variety of levels in addition to her role in the President’s office. “Over the years, I’ve been involved in retreats and CLC [Christian Life Communities] and campus ministry. I’m one of the leaders in the senior project every year,” she said.
Mrs. Peck also trains lectors for liturgies at Loyola. Mr. Matthew Schaeffer, Co-Director of Campus Ministry, said, “I think that [working with Mrs. Peck]is a positive experience for our students [that helps them]to learn how to proclaim the word at Mass.”
Father Walsh agreed that Mrs. Peck has played an important role in campus ministry. “[Mrs. Peck] gets and has appropriated the religious and spiritual mission of the Jesuits and of Loyola High. Her work as a director on the Kairos retreat spoke to that priority in her life. Her eyes of faith help her see what is important about life, Loyola, family and faith,” he said.
In her current position, Mrs. Peck manages the President’s schedule and correspondence along with a myriad of other duties; in addition, she ensures that the President’s office is efficient and effective.
“[Mrs. Peck] keeps my life running. She keeps things moving forward. I always tell people that if they want to get something done to call Mrs. Peck, and she will get it done,” the Rev. Father Greg Goethals, S.J. ‘73 said.
Mrs. Peck has enjoyed the relationships she has formed with her fellow faculty members. “I’ve made many lifelong friends through Loyola,” Mrs. Peck said.
Administrative Assistant Mrs. Patricia Salvaty first met Mrs. Peck in 1981 when they both had sons in the Class of 1985. During their time together at Loyola, they have developed a strong friendship, according to Mrs. Salvaty.
“She [Mrs. Peck] is very easy to work with,” Mrs. Salvaty said. “She cares about everyone. She’s generous with her patience, her remarks, her time. . . . She’s always someone you can go to, and she’s very calming.” She continued, saying, “The one thing that I appreciate most about Diane that I appreciate the most is that she makes everyone feel valued.”
Many of Mrs. Peck’s friends enjoy the time they spend daily with her at the lunch table. Mrs. Barbara Jamison, Administrative Assistant to the Principal, said, “We have such a good time at our table. Sometimes, I feel we’re so loud with our laughter,” Mrs. Jamison said. “There’s so much support given back and forth there at that lunch table, and we’re all there for each other.” Mrs. Jamison said that Mrs. Peck will be remembered at the Loyola community for “what a lovely human being she is and [for]caring for everybody here.”
Mrs. Bianca Falcon, Cub Corner manager, believes Mrs. Peck will be remembered for “her beautiful smile and her presence. [Mrs. Pick is a] very graceful, loving [and]caring individual.”
Assistant Athletic Trainer Ms. Brianna Millard said, “We have a bunch of ladies that work here, that sit together, and I kind of think of [Mrs. Peck] as the queen of the castle or the queen of the table.”
During her long career at Loyola, Mrs. Peck said she has seen certain aspects of the school change. “The faculty has increased in size; the plant [campus] has increased in size. One thing that has remained constant is the mission and our Loyola Cub spirit, which just doesn’t change.”
Mrs. Peck recently received the 2015 President’s Award and the Medallion of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Mrs. Peck said that when she was given the award, she “was totally taken aback. It was such a surprise and really overwhelming. When my name was called to come up to the stage and [when]I stood there and looked out at almost 700 people, it was pretty emotional. I’m so honored and grateful. It’s a tremendous thing to be honored like that.”
On Dec. 8, the Rev. Father Stephen Barber, S.J., gave the homily at the school liturgy for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. In the homily, Father Barber spoke about Mrs. Peck as an example of Christ’s light in the Loyola community.
After the mass Father Barber said, “[Mrs. Peck is] very devoted to the Jesuits and the Jesuit community at Loyola High School.” He continued, saying, “She’s always let it be known very clearly that the Peck family could be a second family for me.”
Father Barber said that Mrs. Peck is “a terrific cook. [She] loves a good meal [and]great conversation, and she’s a loyal, loyal friend, and a prayerful, loyal friend.” Father Barber said that Mrs. Peck will be remembered for her “dedication to Christ and the Eucharist, attending Mass here daily and sometimes more than that, and for the power of the family witness to Loyola and she being the mother of a family that has been here for decades.”
Mrs. Peck will be wrapping up her work at Loyola at the end of this month, officially retiring on December 31. She said, “It’s very bittersweet after all these years to retire. I’m looking forward to retirement, but I’m also going to miss Loyola a lot.” Mrs. Peck plans to organize her home, travel and spend more time with her six grandchildren.
Mrs. Melinda Wiggins, current Administrative Assistant to the Counseling Department, will replace Mrs. Peck as Executive Assistant to the President. “I’m excited about it,” Mrs. Wiggins said. “I hope I can be even a tenth of that [Mrs. Peck] represented in that office.”
In light of her retirement, Mrs. Peck said that she has already volunteered to serve as a leader for this year’s senior service project. “I’ll be back often,” Mrs. Peck said, laughing.
Mrs. Peck said that she has truly enjoyed her time at Loyola. “To me it’s never really been a job; it’s been more like a journey,” Mrs. Peck said. “It’s been a wonderful, wonderful experience. I wouldn’t trade any part of it.”