Since its original printing in 1952, the publication of the Handbook of Texas has been made possible through the support of its users. As an independent nonprofit, TSHA relies on your contributions to close the funding gap for the online Handbook and keep it a freely accessible resource for users worldwide. Please make a donation today to preserve the most comprehensive encyclopedic resource on Texas history. Donate Today »


Joseph R. Sanchez

PEAVY, JAMES EVERETT, JR. (1911–1980). James Everett Peavy, Jr., doctor and state public-health official, was born in Lufkin, Texas, on January 21, 1911, the son of James E. and Mamie (McClendon) Peavy. He received his M.D. at Baylor College of Medicine in 1935. After an internship at Bethany Methodist Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas, he began private practice in Poteet in 1936. In 1939 he joined the Texas Department of Health as a unit director in Sweetwater. He entered the Army Medical Corps in 1942; after his discharge in 1946 he was reinstated as director in Sweetwater. In 1947 he became a medical field consultant with the Division of Local Health Services, a position he held until he left for Boston to earn a master of public health degree from the Harvard School of Public Health (1955). He then returned to Texas, where he became director of the Communicable Disease Division of the state health department. Peavy was appointed commissioner of health in Texas in 1959. During his sixteen years in this office, he extended basic public-health services from fifty-nine to all 254 counties in Texas. He helped improve programs for state meat inspection and medical training for ambulance attendants. His plan for statewide immunization became a model for fighting childhood diseases across the country, and Peavy received much of the credit for the 1971 Texas School Immunization Law. Under his leadership the health department was reorganized into sections, each headed by a section chief, the three state tuberculosis hospitals were placed under health department authority, and the state Medicaid program was developed and implemented. Peavy also established the Office of Program Planning and expanded the divisions of Civil Defense, Vector Control, Wastewater Surveillance, and Marine Resources. He retired in 1975 for health reasons. He was a member of the American Medical Association, the Texas Medical Association, and the American Association of Public Health Physicians. He received the Arthur G. McCormack award from the American Association of Public Health Physicians. He was a Mason and a Rotarian. On July 28, 1936, he married Frieda Marie McNeal. Peavy died in Austin on January 11, 1980, and was survived by his wife and two daughters.

Austin American-Statesman, June 3, 1975, January 12, 1980. Howard E. Smith, comp., History of Public Health in Texas (Austin: Texas State Department of Public Health, 1974). Texas Medicine, April 1980. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Who's Who in the South and Southwest, 1975–76.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Joseph R. Sanchez, "PEAVY, JAMES EVERETT, JR.," accessed November 12, 2018,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Get this week's most popular Handbook of Texas articles delivered straight to your inbox