Tom Peeples was selected as the Grand Marshal of the Hilton Head Island St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 2012, after his service as mayor of the town. Pictured are Peeples and his wife, Mary Ann, in a later parade, honored as a Past Grand Marshal. COURTESY HILTON HEAD ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARADE

Tom Peeples and his wife Mary Ann recently announced their retirement after almost 45 years of building homes in the Lowcountry.

His firm, Tom Peeples Builder, was named Builder of the Year on several occasions by the Hilton Head Area Home Builders Association and Business of the Year by the Hilton Head Island Rotary Club. Peeples was also Hilton Head Island’s longest-serving mayor.

“We decided that it’s time to spend our days enjoying this Lowcountry life that we’ve been telling folks about for years,” said Peeples.

Growing up in nearby Ridgeland, Peeples’ family vacationed on North Forest Beach for much of his youth. He became a full-time resident in the early 1970s and started his career working on the construction of Harbour Town. Becoming a licensed contractor in 1978, Peeples built a reputation for expert building, remodeling, and impeccable service. Approximately 500 homes, and some of the Island’s signature buildings, are among the lasting results of Peeples’ career.

“We are grateful for the faith people put in us,” he said.

He credits the ability of the business to carry on through generations of progress, and all manner of changing circumstances, to building relationships.

“Relationships with clients, bankers, suppliers, realtors, and friends from every walk of life grew from the cooperation necessary to build homes,” said Peeples. “These relationships made our time in the business, and my time as mayor, a rewarding experience in all the important ways.”

Peeples also says that long haul wouldn’t have been possible without a team. “We were lucky to have found some remarkable staff members over the years – from our very first hires in 1978 to the folks who are here to turn out the lights and lock the door with us later this month,” he said.

One team member has been with him since the very beginning. Mary Ann Peeples, Tom’s high school sweetheart, wife and business partner, has played an active part in the company’s success. In fact, he credits her with urging him to get his contractors’ license and start the business.

“As a part of the team, and my partner in both the business and life, Mary Ann has been a driving force every step of the way,” he said.

Confidence from the community resulted in Peeples’ being elected to the Hilton Head Island Town Council in 1989 for six years, then elected mayor in 1995.

He is the only mayor in the Town’s history to be re-elected, ultimately serving for a span of 15 years. In 2011 the State of South Carolina recognized him with the Order of the Palmetto, its highest civilian honor.

In 2012, Peeples was selected as the Grand Marshal of the Hilton Head Island St. Patrick’s Day Parade, an honor based on continuing service to the community.

Tom and Mary Ann have one son, Josh, who grew up on Hilton Head Island and is now a winemaker and the proprietor of Elise Winery in Napa County, Calif.

Over the years, they have been active in several community organizations. Tom served as a coach for youth football and was a board member of the Home Builders Association, while Mary Ann has served on the boards of Hargray Caring Coins Foundation and the Coastal Discovery Museum. The Mary Ann Peeples Pavilion at Honey Horn is named in her honor.

“We were blessed to live and raise a family in a beautiful place, where we could also serve the community, and to be in a business where we could help so many people make their dreams come true,” he said. “The commitment we always made was to make building a pleasure. But in so many ways, the pleasure has been all ours.”

Eldon Weaver is a freelance writer, covering the Lowcountry and its people.