Byard F. Peake
1937 - 2020
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Captain Peake discovered Durango back in 1968 from the air while flying over Colorado as a pilot for American Airlines. In no time he had established a base camp/cabin north of Vallecito. He was soon at the helm directing family camping trips, sometimes backpacking, sometimes on the back of a horse. Twin sons Barnaby and Christopher still call Durango their second home.

Flying as an Army observation pilot over Vietnam, Peake earned his first official Captain bars. He was awarded the Air Medal and Distinguished Flying Cross for his service. Thus began his thirty-one-year career as a commercial airline pilot.

Moving the family from the New York City area to Corrales, New Mexico, Byard continued to pursue his love of flight and captained his own hot air balloon, the Emerald City. Family and friends were recruited as his crew, rewarded as passengers flying over the Rio Grande Valley, at the famous Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, and Durango's Snowdown.

The Captain loved to eat and had always dreamed of being a restauranteur. So he bought and remodeled an old adobe Mexican restaurant in Corrales. And for seventeen years, between flying trips, he reigned as El Capitan of the Desert Rose.

Upon retirement Captain Peake landed back on earth and piloted his own narrowboat in England, exploring miles of canals for much of the next four years with his wife Nancy, living on their sixty-foot long, six and a half foot wide Desert Rose, named after his "legendary" restaurant.

But Durango was calling and the Peakes built a permanent home in Falls Creek Ranch in 2000. Because once a captain, always a captain, Byard jumped right in, wading in the mud-filled irrigation ditch, organizing the first Ranch Firewise committee, and serving several years as Supreme Commander of Common Property. The Captain was often seen patrolling the Ranch with his co-pilot, black lab Tarragon.

Our Captain always seemed larger than life. He passionately pursued his many interests full-on, sometimes heedless of the outcome. But he enjoyed every minute, always displaying his famous smile.

We were all enriched in every way with Byard at the helm. Nancy says this about their fifty-one years together: "Life with the Captain was never boring!"

Because he supported Nancy throughout her raising of fifteen service dog puppies, the Captain wished that any donations in his memory be made to Canine Companions of Independence,

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Durango Herald on Jun. 12, 2020.
Memories & Condolences
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8 entries
June 25, 2020
By was a fun classmate to have in our AA Convair 990 FE class in Feb of '66. Always enjoyed seeing him "on the line" and getting updates on what was going on in his life!!
Al Warrington
June 23, 2020
What a lovely and gentle man, Byard was. I so enjoyed knowing him! Camilla Potter
June 18, 2020
Whoops - one correction ... it was aboard the "Emerald City" in which I was lucky to be able to enjoy floating in the skies above ABQ with the Captain! My one regret - the adventure I wasn't able to share with Byard and Nancy - was cruising the canals of England in the "Desert Rose" with Captain Peake and his very able First Mate - Sister Nancy!
Steven Baumhardt
June 18, 2020
The best gift Nancy ever game me was Byard, as the "brother" I didn't have the pleasure of "growing-up" with ... but in some ways we did grow-up together!

Byard was always a joy to be with and played a huge, positive role in our extended family! I'm so glad that I have been able to share a bit of the 51 year path that Byard and Nancy followed together from their wedding on Leary Ln in Edgewater, NJ - through rendezvouses in multiple countries - to Corrales - in the sky aboard "The Desert Rose" above Albuquerque - to Durango - and to two awesome family reunions in McGee Island in Maine and Durango!

My "Big Brother" was a great guy, an awesome friend and will be dearly missed by many - and, most certainly, by me!
Steven Baumhardt
June 18, 2020
Dear Nancy and family,
We are So sorry for the loss of Byard. I always enjoyed hearing stories of your adventures first through Nana and then Glenn and Genny and from Nancys connections with my sister. Also Mom and Dad were so excited and honored when he hosted them to a ballooning adventure! It was enlightening to learn even more about Byards interests while reading this lovely article. I remember meeting him in NYC area around the time of your wedding. What wonderful memories you all have. Bless you Cousin Byard.
Love, sarah Davis Hugus and Scott Hugus (far away in South Florida)
Sarah Davis Hugus
June 15, 2020
We are so saddened to hear this news. Captain Peake was a wonderful man and we will miss seeing him at church and around Durango! We will keep you Nancy in our thoughts and prayers.
Chris and John Serwe
June 15, 2020
My deepest sympathies. May the God of all comfort strengthen the entire family during this time of sorrow. Always remember that God keeps in his memory those whom we lose because they are precious in his eyes. (Psalms 116:15)
S Chambers
June 14, 2020
We met Byard when we became raisers for Guide Dogs for the Blind. Meeting Nancy through the organization we met Byard as well when we
went to dog meetings at their home. When dining out; conversation was never lacking. Byard was quite the story teller. Byard will be missed. He was a good man. Our thoughts are with you Nancy, Barnaby and Christopher during this difficult time.
Sue and Wayne Caplan
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