Saturday, May 08, 2010

Eulogy for William D. "Bill" Reed

Eulogy for William David Reed
Lexington Baptist Church
May 3, 2010
By J. O. Reed, Jr.

Lamentations 3:7
“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning.  Great is Your faithfulness, The Lord is my portion, says my soul, Therefore I hope in Him!”

The saga of William David Reed begins in the mercies of God.  The story commences when a red headed Irish young man met a raven haired young woman on the University of South Carolina campus.  His name: John Osborne Reed.  Hers: Carrie Belle Strickland, a nurse student in the infirmary.  Of this union came six children:  Myself, J. O. Junior; another little lad who didn’t survive and went to Heaven as a babe; then Carolyn, Bob, Florrie, and Bill.

William David … Mama had a way of honoring the attending doctor; hence the David from Dr. David Brocker in Swansea.  A giant of a baby and a giant of a man.  One of his long legs was broken at birth.  Can you imagine an infant in a splint? Those legs and arms and stature grew tall and strong. 

I can’t believe I was trusted to hold him while Mama shopped at Belk for all of us.  Later, I had the chore of helping him with his turn in the Saturday night washtub family bath and earned the rebuke of my Uncle Kense Strickland when I impatiently popped Bill on his naked leg. 

But one vignette I’ll share:  Bill, a youngster then, along with a friend and I accompanied Dad all the way to Lancaster one day on Highway business.  The day was long, hot, and tiresome.  In our fun making, we older boys invited Bill to “shake on it.”  Tired as he was, he offered his right hand palm side up and gave us his look which said, “You rascals!”  So, he’s had to be patient with me a lot of times down life’s path. 

But let me share a sweet note that triggers the parable of his life.  Of all the things I’ve heard his girls say is this:  “Dad found a way to get things done.”  This roots well into a great scripture about the Lord, Isaiah 40:3:  “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.  Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth.”  Add to this the poet’s word:  “To every man there openeth A way, and ways, and a way. And the high soul climbs the high way, And the low soul gropes the low: And in between, on the misty flats, The rest drift to and fro. But to every man there openeth A high way and a low, And every man decideth. The way his soul shall go.” [John Oxenham]

Bill was the only one of us who caught the vision of our Dad to be an engineer of highways – the Highway Department.  This noble task:  “The Highway Department” now the “Department of Transportation.” 

The other word of scripture for you:  Jesus in John 14:7 said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the father except through me.”  Bill saw in his Lord the way to go, the truth to know, the life to live.  Not just to work for the South Carolina Highway.  He shared God’s work as a Gideon in hotels, motels, classrooms, nurses’ stations, detention centers, and around the world.  He introduced people behind bars to the giver of true freedom and life.  His neat affirmation when he heard truth was, “Oh yes!” 

So, I choose to celebrate the noble Bill, father of four, devoted husband, and my big baby brother.  And for all the people who get home safely today riding on roads and bridges he helped to build and maintain, I would say to Bill and family:  Thank you.  And from all of his family, I say to him:  Thank you for loving us, even if you have to leave us for a while. 

Now just this word:  as Paul Harvey said, “The Rest of the Story.”  You see it today in the bright eyes, happy smiles, and determined dedication of his family here present and in the eternal ripple effect of every jail visit, Bible shared, Sunday school lesson taught.  YOU are the rest of the story.  Your legacy is to choose the high way of life who is the Lord Jesus Christ, to take seriously the claim of love that Jesus has on your life, to join Bill in hearing Jesus say:  “Well done, good and faithful servant.  Enter the joys of your Lord.”

[This eulogy was given at Bill's funeral by my father, Joe Reed.]

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