Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Lawrence I. Peak, 86, an investor with shares in a number of local companies who was considered an incorrigible gadfly at annual corporate meetings, died of cancer Wednesday at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Washington.
Called "a professional stockholder" by one financial journalist, Col. Peak matched corporate wits with top Washington management for more than two decades. He wore executive tempers thin while gaining a reputation as something of a champion of stockholders' rights.
In 1969, Col. Peak held the floor during a shareholders meeting of Capital Airlines, in which he attacked management policy on finances, stock options and salaries for executives, and passenger service. Motions he made were either ruled out of order or voted down. His heckling led one company director to tell him either to sell his stock or start a proxy fight.
At a stockholders meeting of the American Security and Trust Co. in 1967, Col. Peak rose to demand that the bank reveal more about the shareholdings and background of its board of directors; said the meeting was too stereotyped, with bank officials merely repeating figures already revealed in the annual report, and suggested that the bank resume lunches for stockholders.
In 1977, he continued to be a thorn in the corporate side, filing suit from his sick bed against the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel Commission, in which he claimed a misapplication of funds to the detriment of bondholders who initially invested in the combined tunnel-bridge connection across the bay from Cape Charles to the Norfolk area.
Col. Peak was born in Medford, Mass. He enlisted in the Lafayette Escadrille in World War I and was awarded the Croix de Guerre. Later in the war he was a supply officer in the old U.S. Air Service Detachment, a forerunner of the Army Air Forces.
After the war he joined General Motors and served it in several financial capacities in North Africa and Latin America.
At the outbreak of World War II, he reenlisted in the Army Air Corps and served as a supply officer. He remained in the reserves until retiring in 1966 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Following World War II, he joined the General Services Administration as a purchasing official, and retired in the early 1960s.
He is survived by his wife, Claire F., of the home, in California, Md., and a daughter, Ellen D. Boone of Winchester and Essex, Mass.