The man was known for his kindness, readiness to help, and his loud pants.
Jack Peffley was easy to spot on St. Armands Circle. Or anywhere.
At 6-foot-8 and fond of an apparel brand called Loudmouth, though, he was far from an imposing figure.
The longtime store owner and merchants association board member died June 17 at the age of 72 in his retirement town of Myrtle Beach, S.C. In synchronicity with his life, he was laid to rest in his signature brand, with purple shoes and purple eyeglases to match.
“He’s anything but a loudmouth,” St. Armands merchant Maureen Hoyt said, noting his love of wild-print pants. “The more outrageous they got, the more were in the fan club. You know, the fan club just flocked to it. And eventually, he just really got into it himself. You don’t miss Jack under normal circumstances, and then [when] he gets one of his lavender Loudmouths get-ups on, it’s really hard to miss.”
Peffley owned multiple clothing shops in the area, starting with Philip’s Menswear on Longboat Key in 1980.
With his wife, Nancy, they opened a second store of the same name in 1983 on St. Armands (which became Taffy’s Menswear in 1993).
Before his retirement in 2015 from running Marcello Sport, he became known for his eye-catching fashion sense and gained a reputation as one of the most recognizable merchants on St. Armands Circle.
Peffley was deeply loyal to those he loved, and he looked out for his neighbors on the Circle. Hoyt was his next-door neighbor in her store, Optional Art, and remembers the gentle giant who acted as an older brother to her.
“Jack was the best,” Hoyt said. “He looked out for me in my store like I was his sister. One time he thought that there was something going awry with the clientele that had come in. So I’d look up, and there was Jack standing in my window, kind of giving me the eye and standing there with a baseball bat.”
Peffley built an adopted family on the Circle, including St. Armands Circle Association Executive Director Diana Corrigan. Corrigan and Peffley were friends for more than 20 years.
“I’m 5-foot-2, so the two of us standing next to each other at a podium, it was always hilarious,” Corrigan said. “He would note and talk and move, and my head would get literally caught underneath his arm and with his jacket. It was always like a comedy.”
As part of the merchants association, Peffley led the Circle with passion and care and held his work with a high personal importance.
“He was about 6-[foot]-8 of brilliance and reason,” said Michael Garey, who was general manager of Cafe L’Europe in the early 2000s. “Basically, when he talks, people listen, and the whole [St. Armands Circle Association board] meeting would go on, and then Jack would weigh in at the end of it, and it was always resolved.”
The man will be remembered for his willingness to jump in and help in any situation on the Circle large and small. He brought events to the area, including an offshore powerboat grand prix. He chaired the Circle 75th anniversary in 2001 and got everyone to go all in on the 1920s theme, from dresses to antique cars to circus elephants to mirror John Ringling’s world to 5-cent hot dogs.
There wasn’t much that Jack wasn’t involved in,” Hoyt said. “And when asked, it was automatic. ‘Yes.’ And he was there.”
He was also instrumental in the existence of the massive Christmas tree that greets visitors during the holidays, climbing inside the structure to make sure it was all connected, or coming back late at night to fix it if the lights went out while shoppers were still around.
“He actually climbed inside of that tree to hook all those rings together,” Corrigan said. “Our heart was always in our throat because we would have to stand there, a couple of us holding the rope, and we’d watch him climb the inside of those wire rings to put those pieces together. I mean, he was amazing. He was absolutely an amazing, amazing guy.”