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23 February 2016

A Remembrance: Dr. Eugene Peck

Dr. Eugene Peck
photo by Kathryn Doyle
Dr. Eugene Peck was a Life-Member of the California Genealogical Society, a beloved volunteer who donated time and resources with much generosity for more than thirty-five years.

“Gene” grew up near Springfield, Ohio. He attended medical school at Ohio State University and subsequently was a well-known pediatrician at Kaiser in Oakland. Gene retired from medicine in his sixties and enjoyed tending his roses; he had over 100 varieties in his garden and he even volunteered for a time at the Horticultural Center in Golden Gate Park. Gene also loved the arts.

Gene developed lifelong friendships in our library. He enjoyed the camaraderie of the Library and Manuscripts Committees. He came to the library every Thursday for many years and one of his great pleasures was enjoying a cup of hot chocolate with his friend, Anne Robinson.

Dr. Eugene Peck & Anne Robinson
photo by Kathryn Doyle 
Fellow long-serving volunteer, Dick Rees, tells us the following story about Gene and Gertrude Stein:

“During World War II, Gene was stationed in Europe; when the war ended, he decided to stay on for a while. He had sent a note to Gertrude Stein about something memorable she had written, and Miss Stein not only replied, but invited Gene to visit her “when you come to Paris.”

Gertrude Stein and Picasso's Portrait of her, 1922 | © Christine/Flickrcommons
So one day, not too long after receiving the invitation, Gene paid a call at the Stein/Toklas flat in Paris. The first thing he noticed was that the hallway and other rooms were lined with paintings, stacked along the baseboards, some facing out and some facing the wall. Gertrude didn’t care much for art, but she did care for artists and she bought their works in quantity!

Gene’s visit with Gertrude was quite pleasant, with the exception of Alice B. who was sitting in a dark corner of the salon. Every once in a while she would make some sarcastic or cutting remark, addressed to Gertrude, but clearly designed to intimidate Gene. He said, “She certainly didn’t want me there.”

As those of us who were privileged to know him can state, Gene was not one to be easily intimidated, and the visit passed without bodily harm to any one.”

Fellow genealogists will miss Dr. Eugene Peck.  Arlene Miles recalled that “his warm and compassionate understanding of people were traits I noticed from the very first time we met.” Under Gene’s guidance, Arlene took on the role of Periodicals Manager while he moved on to our extensive Manuscripts collection, where he “dug right in, reading, transcribing, and summarizing them so they could be made available to the public.”

Pat Bonderud, described Gene as “very gentlemanly, a kind man.” Gene was personable and progressive, as well as an intellectual who especially enjoyed researching the Tooker family of Ohio.

No service is planned. He will be buried alongside his grandmother, in South Charleston, Ohio, near Springfield.

Memorial gifts in his name may be sent to the California Genealogical Society, 2201 Broadway, LLS, Oakland CA, 94612-3031.

Copyright © 2016 by California Genealogical Society