“Why don’t you talk to Ed … or Larry … or Bill … or whoever else is still around?”
Robson, Cummings, and Pope, respectively, are the titans of Valley industry and Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix stalwarts to whom Peltier was referring. And while those names demand instant respect, we were here to talk to Bill about, well, Bill.
Peltier’s sense of modesty belies his background. A Marquette graduate in journalism, he maintains his Cubs season tickets and Chicago ties. A pilot and captain with the U.S. Marines, Peltier began working at The Greyhound Corporation, one of biggest U.S. conglomerates at the time, upon moving to the Valley in 1989. Greyhound eventually became the Dial Corp., then Viad. Peltier has assimilated himself quite nicely ever since, serving on the board of directors for the Arizona Sports & Tourism Authority, the Fiesta Bowl, and University Club, among a host of other involvements. But the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix (BGCMP) is what’s remained closest to his heart, and 25 years of involvement—from board member to board chair in 2000 to his current role as sage/consultant/donor/gentle donor coercer—have spoken louder than anything Peltier could say.
Still, we pressed. Why the Boys & Girls Clubs?
Still, he deferred. This time to John.
John Teets, that is. (It should be noted that the cohorts of Peltier’s heyday read like a Who’s Who of Phoenix emissaries, but to Peltier they’re just regular guys, mentioned as casually as one would old grammar school buddies—John, Ed, Larry, Bill, Chuck.) The CEO of Dial, Teets mandated community involvement for his employees. Peltier, despite his title of Vice President-Corporate Communications, was not exempt. BGCMP seemed as good a place as any to start. After all, it was all about the kids. So he started volunteering.
At the time, there were only a handful of Clubs in the Valley, which laid the groundwork for how indispensable and involved BGCMP volunteers would become. Recalling the impression the Clubs made, Peltier noted his initial times helping with back-to-school shopping.
“The shoes were the biggest thing,” he said. “Kids would look up at me and say, ‘You mean I can pick out any pair of these?’ And I’d say, ‘Heck yeah, go nuts.’”
The impact the Clubs had on the kids still resonates with him, certainly, but Peltier remains fascinated by another aspect of BGCMP.
“The staff though,” he said. “The staff was unbelievable with what they were able to do with those kids … still are.”
If it wasn’t solely a sense of duty to Valley children in need that inspired Peltier’s commitment, it was a sense of obligation to his boss. Teets, for his part, expected follow-through, always, not just in work matters but for volunteering as well. If BGCMP is what Peltier chose on the philanthropic front, then he better see it through.
He’s spent the past quarter century doing just that. In 2005, Peltier chaired a major capital campaign for the organization. He also, for the better part of a decade, co-chaired special events like Today’s Kids, Tomorrow’s Stars. According to those in the know, however, Peltier’s value to the organization transcends definable accomplishments (which is good because, again, Peltier doesn’t care to speak about his accomplishments). Throughout his tenure, he’s remained an invaluable resource lurking somewhere beyond the spotlight. A quiet nudger of potential donors. A “can you talk to this guy?” guy. A phone call, a lunch away from making something happen.
A guy who follows through.
And Bill Peltier isn’t finished. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix Foundation provides the opportunity for donors to leave a legacy of giving. Peltier has championed BGCMP’s commitment to growing the Foundation—“We never focused on it enough,” he argued—and now he’s proving true to his word via his life insurance policy.
Not surprisingly, he doesn’t really want to talk about it. Not because of the subject matter, only because it’s no big deal. (Not true.) Peltier doesn’t think the modest amount his policy will transfer to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix upon his passing is large enough to warrant this attention. (Also not true.) Besides, the tax benefit alone will allow him to have the last word with Uncle Sam, a great motivator in its own right.
Sure. But by the time a dessert tray celebrating in advance his 80th birthday arrives at the table, Peltier’s true intentions have already become quite clear.
BGCMP seemed as good a place as any to start. Twenty-five years later, Bill Peltier will leave a legacy that will extend that commitment indefinitely, even when, especially when, no one is able to ask him about it.
We’d say that’s following through.