Charles Henry Peete, Jr. M.D., 89, former professor and doctor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Duke University Medical Center, and a resident of Durham, passed away peacefully and went to be with the Lord on May 26, 2013. Born April 30, 1924 in Warrenton, NC, he was the son of the late Lucy Pettway Jones Peete and Dr. Charles Henry Peete. He was married to Camilla Jonas Peete for 45 years, who predeceased him in 1999. He was a devoted husband, faithful and loving father, compassionate physician and loyal friend.
He spent his youth in Warrenton where his greatest education came from his father, Dr. Charles Peete, the town doctor. He maintained strong bonds throughout his life with his two sisters and especially his brother, Dr. William P.J. Peete. After graduating from John Graham High School, he attended the University of North Carolina where he had an accelerated education during the war years of September 1941 to December 1943. He immediately matriculated to Harvard Medical School, and graduated in 1947. The commencement address that year was delivered by George Marshall, who announced his magnanimous plan for the reconstruction for post-war Europe. Dr. Peete would graduate taking with him that generous spirit as he spent the rest of his life giving to others and serving his patients.
In July, 1947, he returned to his native state and accepted an internship at Duke University Hospital. He completed residencies in Obstetrics, Gynecology and Endocrinology and then completed a residency at Boston Lying-In Hospital, before returning to Duke. In 1954, he served on active duty at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Key West, Florida. He and his new bride, Camilla, resided there for two years before returning as an assistant professor at Duke University Medical Center in 1956. He was an outstanding clinician who had an intuitive knowledge of his patients’ diagnoses before medical tests were ordered. He retired from Duke in 1994.
Dr. Peete enjoyed the outdoors and loved working in the yard, growing roses and vegetables. He loved giving away the fruits of his labor and delivering corn, tomatoes and string beans to family, friends and neighbors. In the mentoring phase of his life, he would often take medical residents to the Duke clinic back home in Warrenton. During growing season, he stopped at the vegetable stand and introduced them to the local Ridgeway cantaloupes. Subtly, this practice was his way of preserving the small town roots of a compassionate country doctor. Dr. Peete truly learned his medical skills from the time he was a small boy by helping in his father’s physician’s office that adjoined the home and by accompanying his father and brother in the family Ford sedan on house calls.
He loved his Tarheels, and during basketball and football seasons he would either attend games or watch them on television while listening to the play-by-play on his radio.
When Camilla was stricken with multiple sclerosis in mid-life, he served devotedly as her caregiver. When his own health declined, he moved to the skilled care facility at The Forest at Duke in 2004 where he resided until his death. He retained a remarkable long-term memory and a determined and persevering spirit. The family wishes to express their appreciation to the nurses, CNAs and physical therapists who took such good care of Dr. Peete.
Surviving are his daughter, Garland Peete Simon and husband, Edwin Chatfield Simon of Atlanta, GA and their children, Adam Chatfield Simon and Cameron Alexandra Simon; his son, Charles Henry Peete, III of Durham; daughter, Alexandra Peete Jones and husband, Jeffrey Paul Jones of Durham, and their son, Charles Jeffrey Jones; and his son, William Gregory Peete and wife, Vanessa Phelps Peete of Richmond, VA, and their children, Winston Alexander Boyd Peete and Charlotte Camilla Margaret Peete; and two nephews and two nieces. He was predeceased by a brother, Dr. William Pettway Jones Peete and his two sisters, Nancy Peters Peete Blankenship and Catherine Jane Nicholson Matthews.
Dr. Peete was one of the founding members of the F. Bayard Carter Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and a member of many other medical societies. He was also a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity and St. Philip’s Episcopal Church.
Dr. Peete had a gentle spirit, giving nature, kind heart and a reserved and sweet demeanor. He was respected by his peers, appreciated and admired by his patients, and loved by his family and friends. He was a tireless worker, compassionate physician, and a humble servant. He had an economy with words, but by example his character and integrity enriched those around him.
What Jesus illustrated in the parable of talents would appropriately apply to the life of Dr. Peete: “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'” Matthew 25: 21
The funeral liturgy will be offered 10:00 AM Saturday, June 1, 2013 in St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, 403 E. Main St., Durham. The family will greet friends immediately following in the church parish hall. Graveside services will follow at 1:30 PM in Fairview Cemetery, Warrenton, NC.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the F. Bayard Carter Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Duke Medicine Development & Alumni Affairs, Duke University, Box 90581, Durham 27708-0581.