Journalist, businessman, U.S. senator. Peace was born on May 19, 1899, in Greenville. He was the son of Bony Hampton Peace and Laura Estelle Chandler. Bony Peace was the business manager for the Greenville News, and Roger began working as a reporter for that newspaper in 1914. Although his college career was briefly interrupted by service in World War I, he graduated from Furman University in 1919. The next year he married Etca Tindal Walker. They had two children.
Bony Peace bought the Greenville News in 1919, and Roger joined the permanent staff as sports editor. By 1924 he was in his father’s old position of business manager. The Peace family continued to acquire more media outlets in the upstate. In 1927 they purchased their Greenville rival, the Greenville Piedmont, an afternoon paper. The company was known as the Greenville News-Piedmont Company, and Peace became the publisher and president of the company when his father died in 1934. Around the same time, the company started Greenville’s first radio station, WFBC. The company also gave Greenville its first television station, WFBC-TV, in 1953. In 1954 the company expanded its operations into other states when it purchased newspapers in Asheville, North Carolina. In 1967 the broadcasting and publishing interests were merged to form Multimedia, Inc., with Peace as chairman. Building on its holdings in South Carolina and North Carolina, Multimedia expanded operations into Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee.
In addition to overseeing the media company, Peace devoted much of his life to public service. When James F. Byrnes was appointed to the United States Supreme Court in 1941, Governor Burnet R. Maybank appointed Peace to fill Byrnes’s seat in the United States Senate for a four-month interim period. During World War II, Peace chaired South Carolina’s Preparedness for Peace Commission, which developed plans for the state’s economy after the war. He was a member of the State Research Planning and Development Board from 1945 to 1955. Peace also aided his local community by serving as president of the Greater Greenville Chamber of Commerce and as a trustee of Furman University.
In 1957 Peace was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of South Carolina. Posthumous honors included induction into the South Carolina Press Association Hall of Fame in 1981 and induction into the South Carolina Business Hall of Fame in 1991. Greenville’s Peace Center for the Performing Arts, completed in 1990, was built thanks to a generous gift from the Peace family.
Peace died on August 21, 1968, at his home in Greenville. He was preceded in death by his first wife, who died on June 21, 1965, and his second wife, Amy Newgren, whom he married on April 9, 1966, and who died on September 19, 1967. Peace was buried in Springwood Cemetery.
Lunan, Bert, and Robert A. Pierce. Legacy of Leadership. Columbia: South Carolina Business Hall of Fame, 1999.
“Roger Peace, News Media Builder, Dies.” Greenville News, August 22, 1968, p. 1.