When a lot of people hear the last name “Peoples,” they immediately think of Butte Central.

After all, the Peoples name is a big one with the Maroons, and it has been for generations. 

Today, the most famous member of the Peoples family is Dougie. He is a celebrity around the state after sinking a 27-foot shot at the buzzer to give the Maroons a win over Lewistown in the championship game of the Class A State tournament in Missoula.

Before that, Quinn (Peoples) Carter and Mollie Peoples led the Maroon girls to state titles, and Danny Peoples quarterbacked BC to the title game during an inspirational 2014 football season.

Then, of course, there’s Don Peoples Jr., who last season won his 200th game as the head coach of the Maroons. He has been head coach of the Maroons since 1989, and his brother Doug has been an assistant since 1990. Kevin Peoples, the youngest son of Don Sr. and Cathy, is the defensive line coach at Missouri.

Those of us over the age of 45, however, know that the Peoples who had the biggest influence on the Mining City was Don Peoples Sr. There might not be a more important person in Butte over the last half century.

Peoples was the second chief executive after Butte and Silver Bow County consolidated. He led Butte for 10 and a half years from early in 1979 to the summer of 1989. With his optimistic, hard-working approach, Peoples pushed the “Can-Do City” through its darkest years.

In January of 1982, Peoples was on his way home from Seattle when he stopped in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and called his secretary for messages. That is when he learned that the Atlantic Richfield Company was about to pull the plug on mining operations in Butte.

Butte was devastated by the closure, but Peoples would not let it be destroyed. He directed an enthusiastic campaign that led to Butte being named an “All-American City.” He looked on when the Our Lady of the Rockies statue was built on top of the East Ridge. He welcomed Montana Resources and the rebirth of mining later in the decade. He founded the Butte Sports Hall of Fame.

While economic hard times lingered, Butte remained as tough as ever. And, by the time Peoples moved on to lead MSE/MERDI in 1989, Butte’s arrow was again pointing up.

Thanks to Don Peoples Sr., Butte fought through the 1980s and emerged stronger than ever. Because of that, Peoples should forever be known as one of Butte’s most important figures at one of its most important times. Well, for that and for being Dougie’s grandfather.

Listen in to Episode No. 1 of the ButteCast as Mr. Peoples looks back at the 1980s and tells us what it was like to watch Dougie hit that shot.

The ButteCast is available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. Click here to listen to the first episode.