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Dad's Club leader died at game

One autumn night in 1960, Jack Peters cheered Robinson High School's football team as they played Lakeland High.

Robinson, where his son and daughter attended, had opened the previous year without a field, forcing the team to play at Plant High School.

Robinson's Dad's Club had tapped Peters to spearhead the purchase and installation of the new stadium's lights. The field was days away from completion when Robinson took on Lakeland.

Even though Robinson's Knights were losing, Peters looked forward to watching his team play on their own field.

"He was excited over the game that night," said his then-wife, Eleanor Morris.

Then he left his seat at halftime to buy a Coke. "And he didn't come back," she said.

Peters suffered a heart attack outside the stands and died. He was 48.

Born in Sanford, Peters graduated from the University of Florida in 1933 with a degree in business administration. He came to Tampa the next year looking for work and met his future wife, Eleanor.

In 1939, he took a job with Bentley-Gray Dry Goods, working as a stock clerk. He stayed there the rest of his career, becoming president by 1954.

Peters served in the Army Air Forces during World War II and was director of personnel under Gen. Jimmy Doolittle's 8th Air Force. He reached the rank of colonel, which he retained in the Air Force Reserve after the war.

Peters returned to Tampa and became active in professional and civic groups. He was a member of Tampa Yacht and Country Club, Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla, the University Club and the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. He served as director of the National Wholesale Dry Goods Association, the Florida State Fair, the Tampa Rotary Club, Tampa Ship and Drydock Repair and the Hillsborough County Tax Payers Association, among others.

"He was a living doll," recalls Morris, who lives in Bayshore Beautiful. "He was really tops. Everybody liked him."

Jack Peters Field was dedicated four weeks after his death in 1960. After the ceremony, the Knights took to their new field and beat King High, 47-6.

_ MICHAEL CANNING

Source: Robinson High School

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