Some people spend their lives making an impact on their cities, and Jim Peacock Sr. is one of them.
He has lived in Jacksonville for the majority of his life, and he has spent his time bringing businesses to the city, serving on multiple boards and leaving his mark on the business community.
Peacock received the Pinnacle Award at the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner on Feb. 5 in recognition of his impact on the local economy, specifically for his role in bringing Precision Ammo to Jacksonville. The award is not an annual award; it is only given when chamber officials believe someone has earned it.
Originally from Melbourne, Arkansas, Peacock’s family moved to Jacksonville when he was in the third grade. Peacock’s father, Devoe — known to many as E.D. — was a pharmacist, and the family moved to central Arkansas when he bought a drug store in Little Rock.
“We couldn’t find a place to rent,” Peacock said. “[My father’s] uncle, Clarence Peacock, said he heard there were a lot of empty houses in Jacksonville. We came out here to look and found one and took out a six-month lease. We figured that would give us time to find a house in Little Rock. And we never left.”
Jim Peacock graduated from Jacksonville High School in 1957, then went to Arkansas State Teachers College in Conway, now the University of Central Arkansas, and studied biology with a focus on entomology, the study of insects. Peacock said his favorite insect is the monarch butterfly because of its life cycle and migration pattern.
“I’ve always been interested in nature,” he said. “I thought I’d be a game warden or a farmer or something like that — something where I could be outside. I’m not an inside person. Really, I started in pre-med. My granddad was a doctor, and my daddy was a pharmacist, so they were pushing me into that field. But I didn’t want to
After college, Peacock was drafted into the Army. He was about to leave when the superintendent of the Cabot Public School District called him with a job offer.
“He said his biologist quit, and he wanted to know if I’d teach school for him,” Peacock said. “I had never thought about teaching school. I had my degree and was qualified to teach. I told him I had to go to the Army, and he asked if I would go teach for him if he got me a deferment. I talked with my wife, and she said yes. So I wound up teaching up there at Cabot for five years.”
While he was teaching, Peacock got his real estate license to make some supplemental income. The real estate business ended up bringing in more money than the teaching job.
“I would make more money up there selling real estate that I would buy and redo while I was teaching,” he said. “I asked for a raise, and they said they couldn’t afford it that year. I already had my real estate license, and I knew I could make more money even just piddling in Jacksonville. … Really, I love teaching, but as kids come along, the salary wasn’t enough to support us. That was a major factor.”
Peacock’s first real estate office was a small guard shack on Municipal Drive in Jacksonville, before he opened the office at 309 W. Main St., which is now run by his son.
“That shanty is gone,” Peacock said of his original office. “They picked it up, and some fellow wanted to use it as a chicken house.”
When he started in real estate, Peacock said, he would buy, sell or lease — anything to make a living. When he got his certified property manager’s designation, he gravitated into the property-management field.
“Now, I am primarily doing commercial properties,” he said. “It’s a lot easier, and I have a lot more experience in commercial than in residential [real estate].”
In addition to his real estate business, Peacock has had his hand in many community organizations. He was one of the founders of the Rotary Club and a member of the city’s planning commission and the chamber of commerce’s board of directors. He has served on the Pulaski County Equalization Board for 49 years.
“You meet all kinds of people,” he said.
While balancing family, business and service can be challenging, Peacock has also had a few curveballs thrown at him. Fifteen years ago, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, which he beat, and in 1978, he was attacked and shot five times in his office.
“His daddy was a pharmacist. My daddy was a pharmacist,” Peacock said of the man who shot him. “This boy had gone to school and got his degree but had done nothing with it. His daddy threw me up in his face all the time — I didn’t know this — so he thought he’d come take me out. He tried.”
After he was shot, Peacock’s co-workers called an ambulance and brought him outside. A few minutes passed, and the ambulance had not arrived, so Peacock took his keys out and was going to drive himself to the hospital. However, the ambulance arrived before he could get in his car. Peacock lost a kidney and part of his stomach and had some nerve damage. He was in the hospital for two months and out of the office for eight months.
Peacock has had a front-row seat to see Jacksonville change and grow for decades, and he said he is anticipating more growth in the future.
“We started out as a small town when I started in the real estate business,” he said. “It grew fairly steady. … Now we have our own school system, and I think we’ll see that more people want to live here and send their kids to school in Jacksonville.”
As a businessman, Peacock has been part of this growth.
“I read an article in the paper that an ammunition company was trying to relocate to North Little Rock, but there was a lot of opposition to it,” he said. “At the time, I was managing and had for sale a building that was used for manufacturing ammunition back during the war. … I contacted Patrick Franklin and asked if he would be interested in looking at what I had. The next day, he called me back. We came out and looked, and then we had a deal.”
That deal had had a ripple effect, influencing other companies to consider following Precision Ammo to Jacksonville, he said.
“That’s the first industry we’ve had in Jacksonville in a long time,” Peacock said.
Peacock has brought on his son to take over his real estate business, but the elder Peacock said he doesn’t plan to retire anytime soon.
“I enjoy my work,” he said. “It’s not like getting up and dreading going to work.”
Staff writer Angela Spencer can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.