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From rags to riches in Baker County: Paid In Full

By   /   January 20, 2010  /   Comments

When he was a child on a tenant farm in southwest Georgia, Karl E. Peace learned early that his parents, thankfully, were not equal in temperament or ambition. While his mother was protective and had a strong desire to learn, his father subjected him to brutal beatings and would have relegated him to a continuing cycle of sharecropping and poverty.

While his father rejected him when he was child, his mother provided the love and inspiration that he needed to endure and persevere. With a small loan from a prominent farmer and businessman, he left Baker County in 1959, the first in his family to receive a high school diploma, and continued his education at Georgia Southern College in Statesboro.

After earning degrees from Georgia Southern and Clemson University, he returned to Baker County and moved his mother, then suffering from breast cancer, and his siblings to Statesboro to begin life anew.

In Paid In Full the author paints a vivid picture of life on Georgia’s tenant farms in the 1950s – perhaps one of few books with a firsthand account of the involvement of poor whites in the state’s old sharecropping culture.

The book is also a tribute to a mother’s love and a son’s devotion, as well as an account of a love story that ended tragically with the death of the love of his life.

After his wife lost a gallant battle to breast cancer in 2004, Dr. Peace, who holds a Ph.D. in biostatistics, endowed the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health at Georgia Southern University in honor and memory of his late wife. He remains a benefactor to many young men and women seeking to improve their lives through advanced education, and he has generously recognized the positive contributions that others have made to his own life.

“Paid In Full is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry, “ said Albany physician James Hotz, author of Where Remedies Lie and recognized as the inspiration for book Doc Hollywood.

“This is an insider’s view of one of the most powerful and productive segments of the world’s economy,” said Hotz, who has practice medicine in Baker County, which has about 4,000 residents, for 30 years. “ Karl Peace is a mathematical genius who applied his unique skills to develop statistical models that helped revolutionize the drug development process.

“Along the way Karl made a fortune but when his wife was tragically dying of breast cancer he committed his life to philanthropy trying to use his drug earnings to advance public health.

Karl’s success story is infinitely more compelling because societal norms dictate that it should have never happened. Hollywood has never made this movie, as no one would believe it could happen in real life! I had to see it with my own eyes and now you can, also. Yes, the American Dream can still happen.”

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