Carl Wesley McPeak, 80, of Uhrichsville, died peacefully at home in the care of loving family and friends on Tuesday, Sept. 29, following a period of declining health.
Born March 23, 1935 at the family farmhouse near Stillwater to the late John Boston McPeak and Maude Frances (Crosier) McPeak, Carl was a life resident of the Uhrichsville/Stillwater area.
Carl began his long working life at the age of seven, joining his older brother Alfred each morning to feed the cows in the dark and then walk through the woods to Stillwater’s two-room Pleasant Grove schoolhouse to light and stoke the coal-fired pot belly stoves for the princely shared sum of $6 per month. They would return home for breakfast and then return to start the school day. They were extremely close their entire lives, earning the nickname of “Pete & Repeat” bestowed by their neighbor, Dallas Clarke.
Like many other men who grew up during the Depression, Carl began full-time employment to help support his parents rather than finish high school. He worked in several local clay plants and also Alsco Aluminum before settling in at Michigan Sewer Pipe/Larson Clay Pipe in Gnadenhutten for over 23 years as Journeyman Electrician and Equipment Maintenance. Once again, he worked side-by-side with his brother, Alfred, who had the same job assignment. They were the last two employees at Michigan/Larson when those plants closed in the 1980’s. In the mid 1950’s, he and his first wife, Wanda (now Hyder), operated the Gilmore General Store, which was owned by his father.
Carl served with the United States Army Reserve Corp from 1955-1962, achieving a rank of Sergeant SP4. He was a man who took his love of country and affection for family seriously. For almost 30 years, “Uncle Carl” hosted an annual Memorial Day weekend barbeque at his home where usually more than 40 relatives and friends would gather to laugh and share their lives.
Carl made a significant mid-life career change from front-line employee to management. For the last 18 years of his “public works” life, he worked at New Towne Mall in New Philadelphia. Carl was the mall’s first Facilities/Operations Director before retiring in 2004. In this role, he managed a team of about 35 people and became well known throughout the county. He thrived in this job, becoming the kind of boss he had always wanted to have. He discovered he loved the social aspects of such a public job and the mall became the focal point of his life.
Throughout his working life, Carl earned the respect and affection of coworkers, management, vendors and customers. He was a true example of the line…”there are no strangers; only friends I haven’t met yet.” Through observation and practice, Carl became a skilled carpenter, electrician, HVAC expert, plumber, mason – any and all building trades. He could operate and repair almost any type of equipment.
In his spare time, Carl enjoyed working some more. He and his first wife, Wanda, personally built two homes – one each in Stillwater & Uhrichsville. He has continued to live in the Uhrichsville home for the past 46 years. He had an extraordinary wood/repair shop in his garage. He helped build numerous homes – often laying basement block – throughout
Tuscarawas and Harrison counties. He was a primary force in the building of the Heatbreakers Swim Club, a cooperative neighborhood pool in the late 1960s and was the last original member of the club. The club honored him with a “Carl McPeak Day” in 2013.
A country boy at heart, Carl purchased a 40-acre parcel in the eastern Tuscarawas County hills in the mid 1980s with his second wife, Gayle (now Mick), clearing brush and meticulously maintaining this property, affectionately referred to as “The Land”. Carl generously shared this property with family and friends, for hunting, target practice, dog running, camping, barbeques and as a place to share with his stunning tri-color collie, Alex.
His last construction project was as “Senior Advisor” to daughter Rita in the renovation/restoration of five historic commercial buildings in downtown Uhrichsville as part of a general plan of economic redevelopment for the community.
His commitment to work left little time for travel until later in life, but Carl greatly enjoyed numerous visits to his daughter Becky’s home in Florida to spend time with his three grandsons. He loved Westerns and a driving trip to several Western National Parks in Utah/Nevada/California was a treat. The trip of a lifetime occurred in 2009 when he joined daughter Rita and her husband on a month-long trip to Australia and New Zealand. He embraced digital photography as a new hobby to record these adventures.
In addition to his parents, Carl was preceded in death by his brothers, Raymond and James Alfred, and his sisters, Irma McPeak, and Adeline Dunfee. Surviving sisters include Sylvia VanFossen Taylor of Columbus and Connie Bethel Dietrich of New Philadelphia.
Carl leaves behind two daughters – Rebecca (Steve) Moore of Lake Mary, FL and Rita McPeak (Gene Kusmiak) of New York City. Three grandsons – Jonathan (Jessica) Moore of Kirkland, WA, Jeffrey Moore and Jeremy Moore of Lake Mary, FL and great-grandchildren – Dakoda Moore and Evalyse Moore complete Carl’s first family shared with his former wife, Wanda Hyder.
Carl is also survived by a stepdaughter – Angie (Dave) Robinson of Uhrichsville – and four grandchildren – Codi Stark of New Philadelphia, Caitlin Stark, Skye Robinson & Wyatt Robinson of Uhrichsville. Carl’s second family is shared with his former wife, Gayle (Tim) Mick. In addition, Carl is survived by his long-time friend, Scherie Clough, her children and grandchildren. Carl was at the heart of a large extended family of cousins, nieces and nephews who loved this kind and generous man.
A celebration of Carl’s life will be held at 11 a.m. in the R.K. Lindsey Funeral Home in Dennison on Saturday, Oct. 3, with Pastor Brian Flood officiating. Family and friends are invited to call at the funeral home for an hour prior to the service. A private, family graveside service will be held in Uhrichsville’s Union Cemetery. Memorial donations can be made to Community Hospice of Tuscarawas County.
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