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From left, Rosanne Peacock and Chancellor Kenneth Peacock get a final song sung to them by Tony award-winner Ben Vereen.

Photo by ROB MOORE

Originally published: 2014-06-28 16:45:22
Last modified: 2014-06-30 10:53:13

Saying farewell to the Peacocks

by Allison Haver

Dozens of community members gathered Friday evening at Appalachian State University's Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts to say goodbye and thank the "first couple" of the university for their years of service.

Hosted by WBTV anchor and host John Carter, the night was a celebration and a showcase of Kenneth E. Peacock's chancellorship.

"This is a celebration in honor of a man who has had tremendous impact on Appalachian State University, someone who has done more for this university then, well, really, anyone that you can think of," Carter said. "Someone that has really made Appalachian special and what it is today."

A special gift of naming two seats in the Schaefer Center was given to the Peacocks for their longtime support of the arts.

"That means that this university and everyone that knows you wants to ensure that you will be back here, that you will return to those chairs as often as you possibly can to watch the many performances that will be here and just to say thank you for all that you have done for this university, which has been a lot," Carter said.

Friends, family, university faculty, staff and students spoke during the ceremony to pay tribute to the couple.

President of Appalachian's Student Government Association Carson Rich spoke on behalf of all the students.

"On behalf of the students, I would like to say tonight that we do love him and adore him, as well as Rosanne, because of how involved they are in student life," Carson said.

A video of the student "Party with the Peacocks" was played and featured students sharing messages of thanks to the couple.

"Thanks for the greatest four years of my life, Chancellor Peacock," one student featured on the video said.

Other students on the video gathered to say, "You rock, Peacock!"

Faculty and staff members of the university from the faculty senate, staff senate, the alumni association, board of trustees and other organizations also paid tribute to the couple.

Andy Koch, chairman of the faculty senate, shared a story of how a student with allergies who needed to switch dorm rooms reached out to the chancellor, and how Peacock responded personally by saying, "I am honored to have the opportunity to assist you, you are a student of mine and I care about you."

"That is what leadership looks like, it is a service to others and that has been Ken's strategy since he's arrived here," Koch said.

The first lady, Rosanne Peacock, was also honored during the celebration.

"Behind every successful man, there is a woman and there has been quite a woman behind Chancellor Ken Peacock," Carter said. "A woman who has been so remarkable in her support of her husband and her support of this university that it is unmatched by any other."

Friends and those who were touched by the kindness of the campus's leading lady shared the qualities that Rosanne Peacock encompassed of a "true first lady."

The group of women also included Peacock's two daughters-in-law, Hannah Peacock and Mary Elizabeth Peacock.

"While serving the school she loved, she was also serving a family that loved her and watched her sacrifice and give her all for Appalachian State," Mary Elizabeth Peacock said.

Each woman carried flowers that were put together in an arrangement made in Peacock's honor.

Another video showcasing a personal side of the Peacocks was also shown during the event.

"Ken's character is complex," Rosanne Peacock shared in the video. "He's very thoughtful, he's very kind and he's very humble."

"She's a very determined, talented, creative lady. She's supportive and she's certainly caring of me. I could not have had a better partner for me," the chancellor said of his wife and biggest support system.

"It's a good job and it's a great institution," Chancellor Peacock said in the video. "And for me, an only child from Rocky Mount, N.C., first generation of college student, to be the chancellor of an institution the size of Appalachian State it's incredible, just incredible."

When asked what she would say to her husband in the video, Rosanne said, "Can you believe we did it? We did it our way and we did it the best we could. I can't believe it's over. But it was a good ride, it really was, and Ken, it was fun."

At the end of the show, the surprise special guest was revealed. American actor, dancer and singer Ben Vereen sang Broadway hits and spoke to the crowd about how people like Peacock change people's lives for the better.

"Because a Peacock came my way, I got to walk with giants and they called me friend," Vereen said.