Reed Garrison : RIP my dear and loyal friend
August 20, 2012
I had gone to visit Reed Garrison a week ago while he was recuperating from a blood infection in the hospital. We had as good a visit as is possible with someone in pain and ninety-three years old. It was to be our last visit.
Nancy and I had planned to visit again on Sunday but, in the early morning, when I opened my email account the first note was from Rich Rogers informing the Lakeridge family that Reed has passed away early Sunday morning. It was an instant reminder that one should never wait too long to see a friend in health danger.
For a long moment I cursed myself and felt an empty feeling common to losing a good friend, a companion or a family member. Reed was all of those and more to many, many people in our community. He will be missed of course but his memory will live on for all of us. Yes, he is in a better place. And from his new vantage point he will still over look the Pacer athletic scene and offer his loyalty to our young athletes. And they will all know he is still there!
Reed first came to Lakeridge during my last season as the first Pacer head football coach. It was 1987 and as you all know we won the Pacers first state football championship. It was a memorable year and it was the beginning of a twenty-four year relationship between the ‘Big Guy’ and our school.
Rich set up a facebook page where people could send notes to Reed as well as video messages. The words from former Pacer athletes, both men and women, are heartwarming and touching. The obvious love affair between Reed and the Lakeridge family was first and foremost a reaching out by Reed to anyone who needed encouragement, love, companionship or someone to lean on. Reed was that and more.
He called nearly everyone “Big Guy” and he confided in me he did that mostly because he had a hard time remembering all the names. I think everyone knew that but all it did was make people love him all that much more.
His office was just inside the gym and the athletes needed to pass that way to the locker rooms. His door was always open as was his heart. It was a place where everyone could sit, feel comfortable and pour out their frustrations or share a good laugh. Reed was indeed Mr. Pacer.
I saw him now and then during my twenty-two year absence from the Pacer athletic scene and he never stopped asking me when I was coming back. He would tell me how much Lakeridge missed me and I can only tell you how nice that made me feel, true or not. When I did return for the 2009 season he was in ill health and unable to be a full time equipment guy but he never missed a game and his support and loyalty to Lakeridge and me was as obvious as was his love for our athletes.
Losing a loyal friend is never easy but it is part of life and we all go through it sooner or later. My memory of Reed will always bring a smile to my face and a warm feeling in my heart. Reed had a way to make every day better for all of us. Big Guy…. Rest in peace. We love you! Coach Tom