Richard L. Peters, known as “Dick” and more often as “Pete” by his friends, was indeed OU’s winningest football coach. Peters coached at OU from 1946 to 1953 and from 1957 to 1972. He spent three years coaching at Southern Methodist University from 1953 to 1956 where he coached with the legendary Hank Stram.
In 22 years at Ottawa University, Peters served as head football coach, head track coach, and head men’s golf coach. As head football coach Peters compiled a record of 129-42-3 and a Kansas Conference record of 115-21-1 which led to OU’s eight conference championships and included a 23 game winning streak from 1960 to the fall of 1962. He coached seven NAIA All-Americans and 100 All-Conference performers.
Peters was the head track and field coach from 1947 to 1953. He led OU to seven straight Conference Championships, coached 48 Individual Conference Champions, and had 151 All-Conference performers. Peters coached the men’s golf team from 1960 to 1971, leading OU to the 1960 KCAC Men’s Golf Championship.
In 1972, Peters left OU to go to Kansas State University, his alma mater, to a position as administrative assistant under Vince Gibson. However, Peters died of a massive heart attack on May 26, 1973, after only one season at K-State. He was inducted in the NAIA Sports Hall of Fame. In 1977, the Kansas State Sports Hall of Fame added Peters posthumously to its roster.
The same year, Ottawa University, in grateful recognition for all Coach Peters left as a legacy for the institution, established the “Dick Peters Memorial Award” for OU athletes. The citation that inaugurated the award made the following comment about Peters: “His players remember him not only for his great knowledge of football but for the warmth and affection he held for them as individuals as he shared his skill and talents.”
OU again honored Peters' memory in 1980 by naming the 11th Street sports field after him, describing Peters as “a man who sought to develop leadership, instill strong moral character, self-discipline, determination, a willingness to learn, and a drive to win.”