Nobody could have seemed, at first thought, a more unlikely booster of the Flyer than Charles S. Peete, who died Sunday after a long and dedicated career as a conservative activist. He preferred the word "conservative" to "Republican," because, frankly, he could get just as agitated about suspected abuses of power by GOP types as those he surmised so frequently among liberal politicians.
Charlie Peete was our friend, however -- a dedicated Flyer reader who showered us with letters, advice, criticism, and, when he thought it was merited, praise. We took his interest as a sign that we were about the same business he was -- that of taking the pulse of the public weal and of suggesting corrective action.
Tireless as he was in arranging political speakers for the monthly programs of the Dutch Treat Luncheon forums over several decades, Peete was content to remain in the background -- first as the loyal factotum of the late mayor Henry Loeb back when Loeb was the luncheon's public face and later when Christian Right luminary Ed McAteer was the official host. But Peete was the one who did the grunt work for those forums, and he was also the one who insisted on rules of civility from the almost exclusively conservative audience. During one presidential election year, he actually physically ran off a noisome critic of the speaker, who was dutifully espousing the campaign and platform of Democrat Bill Clinton.
Local politics just won't seem the same without the conscientious Peete standing guard. And it won't be the same around the Flyer offices without that weekly letter to the editor, written on an old typewriter and signed "Chas S. Peete."