In their roundabout path to becoming a couple, Loverd and Tricia Peacock have amassed a number of accomplishments.
In addition to being a noted radiation oncologist, Loverd has been a high school football player, a park ranger and won some art shows with his watercolor paintings. In addition to owning her own travel business, Tricia has hobnobbed with famous Arkansans like Winthrop Rockefeller and Bill Clinton, is a former beauty queen and a breast cancer survivor.
But that doesn’t begin to cover the experiences and adventures the couple has had, separately or together. A constant for both, however, and certainly a passion, has been music.
Growing up in Tennessee, Loverd, currently with CARTI in Little Rock, was the high school football player you’d see playing trumpet in his football uniform with the marching band at halftime. As she was being raised in her native California, Tricia, owner and operator of Peacock Travel Group, took up violin as a fourth-grader and was second chair by the time she joined her school’s seventh grade orchestra.
Their early experiences launched a love affair with music that has continued to the Peacocks’ current task at hand, co-chairing the Opus Ball to benefit the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s youth music programs.
“Somebody has to do it,” says Tricia. “And people that have done it have done amazing jobs.”
Watching his wife speak, Loverd shakes his head and smiles.
“She kept griping at me about retiring and now she has another job for me,” he says.
Loverd has supported the symphony everywhere he’s found one as he’s moved around during his medical career, as has Tricia, who among her many passions was president of the Symphony League while living in Batesville, when she applied for a grant to bring the ASO to perform at Lyon College.
“Music is the universal language,” she says.
The Peacocks began their respective musical journeys with childhood piano lessons and never hurt for a musical education. Now they want to make sure such opportunities exist for the youth of Arkansas, which explains their Opus Ball co-chairmanship.
“They’re like the perfect Opus Ball chairs,” says Christina Littlejohn, the symphony's CEO. “They both have experiences with the Arkansas Symphony. Tricia has a lot of experience with music education.”
With a fundraising goal of $475,000, the Opus Ball supports ASO programs like the Sturgis Music Academy, which brings music education to 400 kids across Arkansas; the Youth Ensembles, which assemble 150 older children and teens from 37 regions of the state; children’s concerts and the Summer Strings Camp, among others.
“We are so lucky to have this caliber of music in Arkansas,” Tricia says. “And I’m not saying that because I’m the chairman, because that comes and goes.”
FLOATING AN OFFER
Something was up with Fabio.
In 2005, Tricia and Loverd were casually dating and had agreed to a six-month, exclusive relationship to “see how it feels,” but the deadline swept by.
“August came and went and it never came up,” Tricia says.
On a trip to Venice, Italy, four years later, Tricia noted Loverd’s odd and antsy behavior, which included a lot of restlessness on the flight over.
“I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, he’s sick,’” she says.
Once in Venice, toward evening when the gondola operators were knocking off work, Tricia window shopped while Loverd haggled with an operator they referred to as “Fabio.” Loverd talked Fabio into poling the gondola just a little longer, despite his foot-dragging about working late, but the subterfuge worked — Fabio did the poling and Loverd was able to follow through on his plan to propose.
“I don’t remember the ride,” Tricia says. “I just started crying.”
It may have taken a while for the two to find each other and form a union, but in hindsight it seems almost meant to be.
Both were twice divorced, both had two kids from previous marriages and both had once been victims of embezzlement. His birthday is May 1 and hers is May 2, which is also their wedding anniversary. (“You don’t forget it,” Loverd says.)
And both, of course, had an abiding love of classical music.
Loverd was raised in the small, conservative community of Tiptonville in northwest Tennessee. He took piano lessons in grade school, had eight years of singing lessons and learned the trumpet.
He developed a love for opera and has studied the classical composers through the former “Great Courses” series of educational programs now known as Wondrium.
“Anything before 1802,” Loverd says of his preferences. “That’s when Beethoven did the 5th [symphony] and it changed classical music forever.”
He got his undergraduate degree and played football at Harding University, then studied pharmacology for his masters at UAMS, but switched to medical school.
A lover of the outdoors, Loverd worked as a park guide at Glacier National Park in Montana during summers in medical school before his residencies, work and medical associations took him across the map.
He eventually joined the faculty at the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute in 2015 before coming out of retirement to join CARTI.
“Loverd is unusual,” Tricia says. “He’s right brain-left brain. He could go into a clinic and the nurses like him and the staff likes him and the patients like him.”
Tricia was born in Salinas, California, and raised in Carmel. She began studying piano when she was six and took up the violin in fourth grade, taking advantage of a California educational policy that offered instrument lessons to fourth-graders.
Her mother joined the symphony guild and Tricia joined the seventh-grade orchestra at her school, learned to conduct and played violin in a summer program backed by the Monterey Bay Music Association in conjunction with the local Bach orchestra. Tricia even got to play with some of the orchestra members and still keeps her childhood violin framed on the wall of the Peacocks’ Little Rock home.
After her family moved to Little Rock, Tricia played with the former UALR symphony as a ninth-grader and eventually decided to focus on piano. She was part of Pulaski Academy’s third graduating class and, since the school had no band, she was tapped to play “Pomp and Circumstance” at the school’s first graduation ceremony.
In 1975, as one of the youngest contestants at 16, she entered and won Miss Teenage Arkansas and recalls the live telecast that featured Sally Field and Ken Berry.
While enrolled at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, Tricia missed the deadline for the Miss Little Rock pageant, but her fellow contestants voted her in, and she repaid them by winning that one, too.
Returning to Arkansas, she got help landing job interviews from family friend Bill Clinton, and it was Win Rockefeller, her first travel client, and his wife Lisenne who encouraged Tricia to purchase a travel office in Batesville as part of the Peacock Travel Group she founded in 1982.
Loverd was involved with the cancer center in Batesville and would pick up his travel tickets at Magic Carpet Travel Service, where a mutual friend put him and Tricia together.
“How do you forget a name like Loverd Peacock?” Tricia says.
THE OPUS PURPOSE
A bad fall during a trip to Jamaica put Tricia on crutches or in a wheelchair for the better part of four years.
“I know where every handicap elevator is in the Atlanta airport,” Loverd says.
“All the airports,” Tricia adds.
While recuperating from her injuries, Tricia underwent a routine mammogram in 2016 that revealed she had a small breast tumor. Fortunately it was detected early, and the cancer was treated and beaten by a lumpectomy and radiation treatment.
That made it a “no-brainer” to accept when she and Loverd were asked to co-chair the 2018 Gala for Life benefiting the Rockefeller Cancer Institute, which provided Tricia’s life-saving treatment.
“I got my one-year, cancer-free checkup this spring,” she said at the time. “So I guess God isn’t finished with me yet.”
Describing herself as a glass half-full person, Tricia says the Gala for Life experience made it a natural progression for she and Loverd to co-chair the Opus Ball, which may not carry life-or-death implications, but is certainly a life-giving element that remains close to their hearts.
Slated for Nov. 5, the Opus Ball will take over the entirety of the Capital Hotel and has been sold out for weeks. The funds raised support ASO youth programs for kids ranging from 4-18. The event includes live and silent auctions, a patrons’ party and a chance to hear some of the young musicians perform.
“To be able to perform in front of people is always a great thing,” Tricia says. “It gives you confidence.”
While the Opus Ball is a fun night out for music lovers, Tricia says many attendees aren’t aware of its underlying purpose.
“Some people go to this and don’t realize it’s for children,” she says.
A more subtle benefit of the youth programs, Littlejohn says, is that it puts kids from varied backgrounds and economic situations under one roof, in a shared endeavor, where they can see they aren’t so different.
“Opus Ball goes to create good things for our community and our state,” she says. “There are children from 33 different communities that participate in our youth programs.”
Growing up in music before they grew together, Loverd and Tricia can agree on its unifying power. In these divisive times, the couple sees the symphony as something that can bring people together instead of driving them apart.
They should know.
“Music,” Loverd says, “doesn’t have boundaries.”
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