Edward M. Peace Endowed Scholarship
Ed Peace was an instructor in the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Automotive Technology program and one of Alaska’s greatest experts regarding cars and driving. Peace earned many awards over the course of his lifetime, including NAPA/ASE 2000 Alaskan Technician of the Year and the UAA Chancellor’s Award in 2005 for Exemplary Achievement in Support of Diversity. After his death in 2008, UAA’s Automotive and Diesel Department founded the Edward M. Peace Endowed Scholarship in his memory.
Peace was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and spent 21 years in the U.S. Air Force, according to his son, Torey Peace. He made several journeys to Alaska beginning in 1958 and moved here permanently in 1969. He retired as a Tech Sergeant in 1978.
Peace loved automobiles and worked in the auto-repair industry, running shops for others, over the course of several decades. “He was always an ambassador for the industry, modeling professionalism and customer service,” said Kelly Smith, director of the Transportation and Power Division of UAA’s Community and Technical College at the time of Peace’s passing. “He was especially interested and excited about new and emerging technology. He brought these attributes with him when he came to work at the University of Alaska Anchorage (in the late 1990s).”
UAA’s general auto-technology program was suspended for a time, but when Peace was hired, officials decided to revive it. Peace helped to bring it back and became the program’s linchpin, Smith said. “He was definitely responsible for a lot of the students who came into the program. A lot of the kids stayed because of him.”
Smith said that helping students was one of Peace’s passions. He said that Peace worked to make the programs accessible to anyone. At one point, several Spanish-speaking students expressed interest in taking classes. Peace worked to find Spanish translations of the textbooks so the students could participate.
Smith said that Peace was known for coming up with parts for students who could not afford them. He also worked to find employment for students and at times would even give them money if they needed it.
Smith said, “He was adamant that his students learn professional traits and apply them in their own careers. He often stated that he felt best when he was in front of a group of students, and was often requested by teachers and counselors when a field trip was planned to the (Automotive and Diesel Technology) facility.”
Peace’s passing left behind a legacy far reaching and long lasting. Other faculty members have said that Peace’s passion for teaching and compassion for his students went far beyond the call of duty.
“He will be sorely missed,” said fellow instructor Craig ‘Chip’ Defendorf. “He did a lot of good for the program.” Defendorf could only describe Peace as “animated” in the classroom. “Jumping, moving around, showing students things when he had to show something that was in motion.”
Defendorf said that Peace cared deeply for the students. If they ran into trouble, it affected him as if they were his own children.
Peace was generous with his time. Among organizations for which he volunteered are the Alaska Women’s Show, the Alaska Family Court, the ARC of Anchorage, the Alaska Military Youth Academy, Skills USA and others. He and other Transportation and Power Division faculty shared their expertise and advice with Anchorage School District students and industry technicians. Together with his UAA automotive students, he performed free checks of engine-block heaters for Anchorage
Peace had suffered from lung cancer and its complications for at least two years but maintained a full schedule, teaching and donating his time to sundry causes, nearly until his last days. For the Spring 2008 semester at UAA he carried a full teaching load.
“He wouldn’t let anybody teach for him,” Smith said. “He let me take one or two individual classes, but that was it. I asked him to have a whole class, but he wouldn’t let me.”
Just before Peace’s passing, instructor Rodney Perkins asked Peace to help him entertain 65 grade-school students. Peace jumped at the chance.
But just as Perkins was readying everything for the event, Peace’s wife Rosemary came to Perkins’ office to apologize. She told him that Peace was in the car but was not able to get out due to his illness.
“How many others would, while battling cancer, done this?” Perkins said. “That is the kind of man Ed Peace was.”