Col. Philip B. Peters ’57, Ph.D., who served on the faculty of VMI’s department of physics and astronomy for more than four decades, died Feb. 13, 2019. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, May 17, 1935, and raised in Towson, Maryland, Peters matriculated at VMI in 1953.
As a cadet, he was involved in many activities. He was on the staff of The Cadet and The Bomb all four years and was the sports editor for both publications during his 1st Class year. An enthusiastic athlete and a member of the Monogram Club, he played basketball and ran cross-country during his rat year, in addition to playing soccer and golf for two and three years, respectively. He also was a distinguished student for three years and a distinguished military student in his 2nd and 1st Class years.
A distinguished graduate of VMI, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from the Institute. Following graduation, Peters became an instructor in the physics department and then went on to serve two years of active duty as an officer in the U.S. Army. He worked as an electronics engineer for the Bendix Aviation Corporation after his military service.
In 1960, he returned to VMI as an instructor in physics and pursued graduate studies which culminated in a Doctor of Philosophy degree in physics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which he earned in 1968. A devoted and respected professor, Peters was the head of the department for two separate five-year terms. He also served on numerous faculty committees including the Academic Board as well as the Academic Policy, Institute Awards and Individual Privilege committees. In 1991, he received VMI’s Distinguished Teaching Award. Peters also coached the VMI golf team and, along with his wife, Sharon, performed with the VMI Theatre.
Besides all he did on post, Peters was active in the local community. Among the groups to which he offered his time and talents were the Lexington Boys Club, United Way, Rockbridge Jaycees, New Vision Prison Outreach, Gladys House homeless shelter, the Rockbridge Christmas Basket Program, Habitat for Humanity, Meals for Shut-ins and Angel Tree Prison Ministries. He was an active member of the R.E. Lee Memorial Episcopal Church and Grace Presbyterian Church and participated in the Cursillo ministry.
Peters is survived by his wife of 53 years, Sharon Kidwell Peters, and their three children, David Peters ’91, Michael Peters ’93 and Erika Brooke – who is married to George M. “Merce” Brooke IV ’94, a professor in the department of physics and astronomy. He is also survived by his oldest children, Elizabeth Alford and Troy Tarbox; 17 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren, one of whom, Cadet Spencer Peters ’21, is a rising 2nd Class cadet.
Scott Belliveau '83 Communications Officer - Executive Projects
The communications officer supports the strategy for all communications, including web content, public relations messages and collateral pieces in order to articulate and promote the mission of the VMI Alumni Agencies and promote philanthropy among varied constituencies.