eggy Jean Cockerham, among the first women minority GMC automotive dealership owners, passed away November 13, 2018, in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Marilyn Robinson, a long-time friend and colleague said: “Nashville is where Peggy called home for nearly 20 years, and we felt it fitting to hold a special service in Nashville for her family and friends to honor her life.”
A memorial service will be held in her honor on Tuesday, January 29 at 5 pm in the Chapel of McKendree United Methodist Church at 523 Church Street, in Nashville. An informal gathering will be held at Morton’s The Steak House immediately following the service.
“Peggy was a highly accomplished woman in several fields. As a skilled and firm negotiator, I often called on Peggy for advice because of her strong business acumen. She believed in improving the status of women and minorities in every vocation,” Robinson said.
Peggy was drawn to the auto business for the opportunities it affords women and minorities. She left banking in 1989 and trained for a year at a GM dealership in Charlotte, N.C., which was followed by a stint in Detroit, Mich. learning to be an operator-owner. The experience gave her insight into all aspects of an auto dealership, from service and parts to sales and personnel. During her training, Peggy crossed paths with veteran Atlanta dealer Greg Baranco and went on to spend 18 months in his store as general manager. Always wanting to be an entrepreneur, she opened the doors of Southlake Buick-Volvo-Subaru in December of 1992. Peggy later moved to Franklin, Tennessee, where she was founder and president of Franklin Pontiac Buick GMC, Inc. for many years.
Because of her hard work, she received the Minority Business of the Year Award for 2006.In 2009, Peggy would be among the only three GM minority-women-owned dealerships in the country.She spent more than 20 years in the industry. Prior to her passing, she served as an ‘investigator officer’ at the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) in Nashville where she reviewed and analyzed the financial statements of and audited postsecondary educational institutions that were authorized by THEC.
“Peggy was my friend and colleague. Her financial background and ability to understand complicated financial statements was an asset. She was highly detailed and always gave her best,” said Dr. Stephanie Bellard Chase, associate executive director for the Division of Postsecondary State Authorization (DPSA) of THEC.
Peggy contributed to the auto-industry profession and to the communities in which she lived throughout her career. She had a genuine passion for the advancement of women and minorities in their quest to be afforded the same opportunities. She often volunteered and exhibited commitment and dedication to small business, community outreach, neighborhood development, and mentoring. She served in leadership roles and as a member on various boards and organizations in the Atlanta and Tennessee area including: the Chambers of Commerce in Atlanta and Nashville, Art Council; National Association of Minority Auto Dealers; NAACP Lifetime member; Vivian Wilhoite Metropolitan Nashville Property Assessor Campaign, (treasurer); UJIMA House, Inc. (board chair); Links, Inc., Parthenon Chapter; Nashville Foundation for Women of Color, (financial secretary); 100 Black Women, Inc. both Atlanta and Nashville Chapters.
She was a devoted member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and an active member of the Nashville Alumnae Chapter. Peggy earned her MBA in finance from Clark-Atlanta University and her B.S. in accounting. She was a graduate of Patrick County High School in Elkin, North Carolina. Peggy was active in the area churches where she lived and attended McKendree United Methodist Church regularly in Nashville. Her parents, Artis Oscar Cockerham and Lamell Hill Cockerman preceded her in death.
She is survived by a loving and devoted family; sisters, Vickie Hill, Patty Etheridge; brother, Daniel (Brooke) Cocker-ham; and a host of other relatives and friends.