In the early days of the family dairy business, South Carolina Senator Harvey Smith Peeler, Jr. would deliver bottles of milk door to door. If no one was home, he would place the bottles in the refrigerator. That work ethic and the trust shown in young Peeler are values which followed Senator Peeler into public service.
The Republican Senator for District 14, representing Cherokee, Spartanburg, Union and York counties, is closing in on three full decades since his first election to the South Carolina Senate in 1980. Prior to his election to the Senate, he served a four-year term on the Cherokee County Council.
Since his election to the Senate, he has risen through the ranks, and in 2005 he was elected by his fellow Republicans as Majority Leader, an office he still holds. He has served as the chairman of the Senate Medical Affairs Committee since January 2001. Aside from his committee chairmanship, Senator Peeler is heavily involved in the inner workings of the Senate. He has served as vice-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee since 2007. Senator Peeler also serves on the Education, Ethics, Interstate Cooperation, Transportation, Joint Bond Review, Senate Operations and Management, and State House committees.
Over the years, numerous groups have recognized Senator Peeler for his dedicated service to our state. The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce honored him as Public Servant of the Year. In addition he has been recognized by the state’s Business and Industry Political Education Committee, the South Carolina School Boards Association, the Poultry Federation, the Rural Water Association, the Association of Nurse Anesthetists, and the Association of Taxpayers. In 2008, Senator Peeler received an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from the Medical University of South Carolina.
Senator Peeler is a product of this State. Still residing in Gaffney, the town in which he was born, he learned the importance of public education and hard work from his parents. His mother is a retired elementary school principal and his father owned Peeler’s Dairy. He married his high school sweetheart, the former LaDonna Caudill. She is a nurse with the Cherokee County School District. They have three children and seven grandchildren.
A 1970 Clemson graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in dairy science, Senator Peeler has served his alma mater faithfully. During his Senate career, Senator Peeler has been instrumental in securing funding for the University and its Public Service Activities unit. In particular, his support of Clemson’s agriculture and public service mission has enabled the University to better serve the citizens of our state. His actions further demonstrate a commitment to all higher education institutions in South Carolina.
The lifelong values Senator Peeler has kept are evident when he talks about his public service. He talks of his first day in the Senate Chamber in 1980 – it took his breath away. That sense of wonder remains almost thirty years later. Each day when he walks into the Senate Chamber, Senator Peeler feels the responsibility towards the people who have elected him to serve.