The Wisconsin Maritime Museum, located in Manitowoc WI is pleased to announce a $130,000 bequest from the estate of Robert (“Bob”) and Grace Peppard. The Peppards were long-time supporters of the museum. Bob Peppard was involved with the museum as a volunteer from its very inception in 1969. Through the museum, Bob also met his future wife Grace Swensen, the museum’s first archival librarian. After retiring, Bob volunteered in the museum archives almost every day for the rest of his life.


Bob, who was an avid maritime historian with a passion for Great Lakes car ferries, also donated a significant collection of books and photographs to the museum’s extensive archives. Bob’s contributions to the preservation of maritime history were immense, and his work has left a lasting legacy.


“This significant bequest reflects the philosophy of giving that made Grace and Bob such generous individuals,” said Rolf Johnson, CEO of the museum. “Beyond their financial contributions, both devoted countless hours of volunteer work to the museum, particularly in our collections and curatorial departments.” Bob also served on the museum’s board of trustees, including as vice president in 1974-1975.
Bob and Grace are also part of the museum’s Admiralty Society and helped fund the restoration and interpretation of the Chief Wawatam triple-expansion steam engine, a favorite interactive exhibit with museum patrons. The Wawatam was an ice-breaking car ferry that worked the Great Lakes. Bob was also well-known by museum staff and other volunteers for his keen (mischievous) sense of humor and spirit of camaraderie.


“Bob was passionate about the museum, generous to a fault, and a champion of the museum’s collections,” said Caitlin Clyne, Registrar/Collections Manager of the museum. “Almost 10,000 of the photographs, books, and artifacts in our collections were donated by the Peppards. Bob was like a living, breathing hard drive of Great Lakes maritime history. Most of what I know about Lake Michigan car ferries, I learned from him.”


He loved his coffee and part of our daily repartee revolved around his imaginary strategies and plots to smuggle it into the collections area.


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