On the birth certificate the name reads Louis Edward Peay, but in the Village of Ridgewood everyone knows him by his familiar name “Eddie.” Eddie grew up as a young black athlete in the 1950’s in Ridgewood, N.J. He attended the predominantly Afro American Mt Bethel Baptist Church on South Broad Street and attended the Ridgewood Public Schools. While those are some basic facts, the fact is that if you were having a bad day, he was going to change your day around with that signature smile, a big greeting, and that powerful handshake that you would never forget.
As Eddie grew up he developed a passion for sports at a very young age. As a young man and only after his chores were done, he would search the local streets in town looking for a pick-up baseball or basketball game or maybe just someone to throw the football with. Eddie went to Union Street Elementary School and then on to George Washington Junior High School. From there it was on to Ridgewood High School where he graduated from in June of 1954.
Upon graduating from RHS, Eddie went to Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania to study engineering and play football. Eddie returned home early from college to engage his skills in entrepreneurship and to start a family. He married his high school sweetheart Alveria and had three children Colette, Louis, and Jacques. Creating a strong family base with a strong belief in secondary and higher education, all three of his children attended the Ridgewood Public Schools and graduated from Ridgewood High School and from college. Colette and Louis graduated from Ramapo College and Jacques from Bucknell University, where like his father, he played intercollegiate football. Eddie not only started a family, but also a very successful business which was well recognized throughout the Bergen County area as the ”Peay Moving Service.” A well established business in town, it served the community and surrounding area for over sixty years.
From his early youth Eddie was a true athlete as he excelled at baseball and football. In his youth Eddie’s Ridgewood Baseball Association’s first ever Little League All Star Team was the first village youth team to receive national recognition. His team made it all the way to the regional little league finals in 1949 and lost the final to Hagerstown, Maryland for a trip to one of the initial Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. This group of young ballplayers were recognized as champions and were looked at as local heroes of the day.
As a high school athlete, Eddie’s special skill set showed itself in the fall and spring when he excelled on the gridiron and diamond. In high school Eddie wanted to follow in his older brother Carlos’s footsteps, but wanted to cut his own path to success. Being named a First Team All County running back in 1953 his record of success and statistics reflect his abilities. He is often talked about in Bergen County football circles as a hard hitting, tough player with outstanding speed and balance. Many comments of the time simply stated, “It was a pleasure to watch him play.“ Eddie recalls that he truly enjoyed his teammates as he Co-captained the varsity football team his senior season with Bruce Nealy. He always looked forward to the traditional Thanksgiving Day game with Fairlawn stating, “They were always ready for the “Cutter” attack with other players like Bill Dailey and Joe Corcoran.” Eddie not only excelled as an athlete, but also as a student enabling him to follow his dream of a football scholarship to Lafayette.
A lifelong Ridgewood resident, Eddie loves the Village and its people. He gave back to his community by being a junior football association coach inspiring many young athletes in town to realize that hard work, commitment and teamwork were the lessons not only of teams, but of a good person and good personal character. He also volunteered his time by helping with the RHS Jamboree and in helping to maintain a green Ridgewood by donating his time to planting floral arrangement throughout the downtown area. Retired now and still living the dream in Ridgewood, he spends his time spoiling his grandchildren and is always available to share a smile and some good cheer with a “Hey Buddy” and big smile to one and all.
Congratulations Eddie on a fantastic life and on your incredible accomplishments both on and off the athletic field. It is a pleasure to now call you a member of the Ridgewood High School Athletic Hall Of Fame.