By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD
One of the first topics I had planned to discuss with William ‘Bill’ Peatross was his selection for induction into the 2022 Byrd High School Hall of Fame. With his successful business and legal career, his numerous awards, his tireless advocacy for the economic growth in our area, and his extensive work for the betterment of our community, Peatross is a natural choice as one of the six inductees.
Right after sitting down for lunch at Fairfield Market Cafe, I asked Peatross about the honor. His response gave me quite an insight into the 1961 Byrd graduate.
“Yeah, how about that,” Peatross said with a smile. “It must have been a slow year.”
One of the first things I learned about Peatross during our visit is that he has a wonderful, dry, self-deprecating sense of humor. He’s not one to talk about his accomplishments – and there are many.
Before addressing the Hall of Fame induction, however, he wants to ask me a few questions. When he recognized my maiden name, he asked is my father was E.B. Prothro. Turns out he remembers my dad from (many) years ago when they were members of the Shreveport Executives Association.
“We used to meet at The Shreveporter,” said Peatross. “That was a nice organization. It gave me the opportunity to meet a bunch of folks I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to meet and to learn from those folks. Your dad is one I learned from.”
Another one who taught Peatross was Irma Robinson, the Byrd teacher whose Latin classes were building blocks for his education at the LSU School of Journalism and the LSU Law School.
Obviously, Peatross was a good student — evidenced by his successful business career. After buying a small abstract company in Shreveport in the early 1970s, he turned it into the area’s first title company. Under Peatross’ leadership, that company became one of the largest title companies in the Southeast United States.
A few of his honors include being named Shreveport’s Outstanding Man of the Year, the City of Shreveport’s Economic Leader of the Year, the Legal Secretaries Boss of the Year, and the Shreveport Chamber’s Business Leader of the Year.
He served as president of the Shreveport Economic Development Foundation, a director of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, president of the Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, and chairman of the Louisiana Economic Development Corporation (for which he was appointed by the governor).
Now you see why Peatross is a natural selection for induction into the HOF. And you’d think that he’d be enjoying retirement after a lifetime of accomplishments – of which I named just a few.
He may have slowed down a bit – thanks to a hip replacement last year – but the 79-year-old (“I’ve reached the age that the candles cost more than the cake”) is hoping to get back to marathon running soon. Peatross, who has completed 40 marathons around the United States, is currently staying in shape by walking three to five miles every morning.
“I miss the competition and the camaraderie of the runners,” says Peatross, who spends summers at his second home in Colorado and still practices law at the firm of Wiener, Weiss & Madison.
Peatross has merged two of his passions – running and writing – into his “Thursday Morning Running Log,” which is shared with over 1,400 people all over the United States and three foreign countries.
“It started out with eight to 10 people and then it grew,” he says of his weekly readership. “There would be members of our running club at the (Shreveport Barksdale Air Force) Base who moved away and kept up through it.
“I had someone in the service in a foreign land that said, ‘I see y’all ran 12 miles Saturday, so I ran 12 miles on the flight line.’ That’s pretty cool.”
These days, Peatross is looking forward to a couple of things – getting back to marathons and walking back into the halls of Byrd High School, which he will do for the HOF assembly on Oct. 7. “I don’t think I’ve been back there in 50 years,” he said.
And while he likes to joke about why he was selected for induction, he feels honored – and humbled.
“It came pretty much out of the blue,” said Peatross. “When you look at the quality of the past years’ inductees and this year’s recipients, I’m not sure why I’m there. These are some folks who have made a difference in people’s lives. To be counted among these, I really appreciate it.”
Contact Harriet at email@example.com
Note: A reception for the six inductees – five Byrd alumni and one faculty member – will be held Oct. 6 at East Ridge Country Club. A homecoming assembly and induction will be held in the Byrd Auditorium on Oct. 7. For information, go to www.byrdhighalumni.org/hall-of-fame.