When I first saw the posts on Facebook yesterday about the death of Jim Reid, I was immediately saddened. So I started thinking about this post and what I would say to Betty Reid and Terri Reid Williams, his beautiful wife and daughter.
Let me go back in time nearly a half-century. (Boy, that really sounds like a long time!) In the mid-1960s, Butch Beckett and Emory Mounts and some others asked me to play for their softball team. I was honored because so many people playing softball in West End in those days were athletic heroes of the Williamson and Belfry areas.
For those who don’t remember the old softball park in West End, there was no chain link fence around the field. In the outfield there were posts holding a large cable that served as the outfield fence. In right field were some trees, and some neighbors of the field – including Jim and Betty Reid – would sit there in lawn chairs and watch games. I began to talk with these folks every time I would enter or leave the field, and we developed what I thought was a very good relationship.
Over the years, many of those relationships grew even stronger. My relationship with the Reids was one of those. When I got my first ticket for a traffic violation, I went to the office of Magistrate Sid Stollings and Betty was there. She assured me things would be okay and I didn’t need to be afraid. Just accept that I had done wrong and learn to do better.
Over the years, I came to know Jim as a faithful supporter of youth sports in Williamson, and he was a fine one. In the 1970s, I covered City Council for the Daily News and he was a councilman. And he was a fine one, always concerned about the needs of the people he represented.
I left for Beckley Newspapers and then would see Jim and Betty at sports events I covered, like the state basketball tournament in Charleston when they were cheering on the Wolfpack. And I’d see them often on trips back to Williamson.
When I took newspaper jobs on Virginia, my trips home were less frequent. But I often saw Jim or Betty or both and we would chat and rehash old memories. And the fondness for them grew. Often these visits were during WHS reunions and I so treasured the time Jim and Betty spent with me.
A few years ago, I learned more and more about Jim Reid – unfortunately. I lost a son. And while I and virtually everyone in our home town knew that Jim had lost a son – his precious “Brother” Reid – several years earlier, it wasn’t until then that I knew what he had endured. And he always showed the most grace and strength, and now I understood! You don’t forget and your love doesn’t diminish. You just learn to carry on with life.
He and I chatted again at another WHS reunion about that and we shared a bond no man or woman wants to share. But we understood something about each other that you never know otherwise.
Now, I’ll never have the chance to chat with Jim again and that saddens me greatly. I hope to see Betty and Terri again, and I hope they know how much I treasure their friendship and how much I treasured Jim.
But I take comfort knowing that Jim is, at long last, with his boy. And I know that one day I’ll see mine again.
And I smile.
Former staff writer for the
Williamson Daily News