Peden, Roy


A native of Johnstown, Pa., Roy Peden dropped out of high school to work in a steel mill but didn’t end up staying long, instead choosing to move with a friend to Westerville. Roy enjoyed an outstanding athletic career at Otterbein Preparatory School before enrolling at the college, where he promptly began rewriting Otterbein’s sports history.

Taking part in just about everything, Peden stayed busy by competing for the football, basketball, baseball, track, golf and tennis teams. Revered for both his athletic prowess and outstanding sportsmanship, he set the conference record in the pole vault with a jump of 12-5 ½.

Roy’s Otterbein career was segmented because he withdrew from classes to enlist in the U.S. Army during World War I, where he served in combat. His athletic abilities were quickly recognized, however, and he was reassigned to the U.S. Army Track and Field team. He won events all over Europe and most notably collected medals in the pole vault and 880-relay at the Inter-Allied Games, the general equivalent of the Olympics, which had been cancelled during WWI.

Peden was discharged after the war and returned to Westerville to pick up where he had left off. His athletic talents had become widely known at this point and, to the relief of many, he turned down scholarship offers (and possibly bribes) from larger schools in order to come back to Otterbein. He ultimately graduated in 1922 with an incredible 20 varsity letters and was named Otterbein’s “Greatest All-Time Athlete.”

Roy became a teacher and coach for Dayton Public Schools after graduation, serving at Kiser High School from 1933 until his retirement in 1963. He eventually passed away in 1993, at the age of 96, and was later inducted into Kiser’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013. Always known for his quiet strength, dignity, modesty and leadership, Roy Peden is now a valued member of the Otterbein Athletics Hall of Fame.