In Memoriam: Irving Peddrew III, 1935-2024

Irving Peddrew III, the first Black student to attend Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, passed away on May 11, 2024. He was 88 years old.

In 1953, Peddrew enrolled at Virginia Tech . According to the university, he “was the first Black student admitted to a historically white, four-year public institution in any of the 11 former states of the confederacy.” As the only African American within a student body of more than 3,300 students, the university required him to reside off campus.

Peddrew ultimately withdrew from Virginia Tech prior to his senior year and completed his undergraduate education at the University of Southern California. After graduation, he had a successful career in business in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas. He eventually moved back to Virginia in the 1970s, and later worked at historically Black Hampton University until his retirement in 1994.

In 2003, Virginia Tech established Peddrew-Yates Hall, a residential building named after Peddrew and the university’s first Black graduate, Charlie Yates. The residential hall was Virginia Tech’s first building named after African Americans. In 2016, the university awarded Peddrew an honorary bachelor’s degree in engineering.

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