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Away Too Long

After many years of diligently posting to this blog, suddenly last fall I became overwhelmed with life and just could not find the time. Why? My dear Dad and one of my brothers passed away within a month of each other. As guardian and executor for both of them, I really had a lot to do. Now, after quite an absence, here is a post in remembrance of them.

 

Earl E. Reed (1927-2017)

Dad was born in Wheatland, Wyoming, the fifth of six children. His father died in an accident when Dad was seven. Without a breadwinner, the family moved to Loveland, Colorado where an uncle made a house available to them. All the boys went to work, and Dad helped deliver milk. Dad graduated from Loveland High School in 1945. He immediately enlisted in the Navy and served aboard a minesweeper, the USS Seer, in the South China Sea. After his service, he returned to school, eventually graduating from the University of Wyoming with a degree in business in 1954.

Dad joined Marathon Oil Company (formerly the Ohio Oil Company) as a petroleum landman. He spent his career with them in Bismarck, North Dakota; Sidney, Nebraska; Casper, Wyoming; and Cody, Wyoming. In his free time, he participated in team sports like bowling and volleyball, served as treasurer of his son’s Scout pack, and ushered at the local Lutheran Church. He was an avid reader, and he liked to fish. He belonged to the Elks club and enjoyed taking meals at Elks lodges whenever he traveled on business.

Dad married Joyce Bentsen while he was still in college. Their marriage lasted 47 years until she passed away in 2000. After his retirement, they enjoyed traveling from Wyoming to the east coast to spend the winter in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He referred to those years as “golden”.

Dad lived alone in Casper in the years following Joyce’s death. When he began to need more assistance from family members, he moved to the Denver area and remained there for the rest of his life.

People always described my Dad as a real gentleman. He was generous and provided well for his family. He valued education and was the first in his family to finish college. He was a great Dad despite having lost his own at such a young age.

Dad was buried next to Joyce in the Casper cemetery. On a cold November day, Navy service members from Cheyenne, WY traveled to Casper to stand guard during his burial service and to fold the flag that covered his casket. Dad had lived to the age of 90, longer than any of his siblings. It was time for him to rest.

 

James E. Reed (1959-2017)

My brother Jim enriched our lives by being different. He was born in Bismarck, North Dakota, the third child of four in our family. He had severe developmental disabilities and needed care all his life.

Jim lived at home until he was nine, and then my family placed him at the Wyoming Life Resource Center (formerly the Wyoming State Training School) in Lander, Wyoming.

Some people think institutional life is a terrible thing, but it was not so for Jim and the other clients in Lander. They lived on a beautiful, tree-filled campus with easy access to everything they needed—cozy houses, a recreation center with swimming pool, a canteen, medical and dental offices, and a chapel. They had the opportunity to attend school and other therapy. Staff provided wonderful leisure activities like parties, dances, holiday celebrations, and picnics. For all of this, they had the freedom and safety of the large campus. Jim never had to be confined to a small group home in a busy city where he would have been locked in for fear that he would wander into traffic.

He and the other residents who were able enough had meaningful work to do in the gardens, in the craft center making items to sell, or helping with janitorial services. Jim worked as a janitor for many years. Towards the end of his life, when he grew more frail, he helped with paper shredding and mail delivery. These jobs gave structure to his life and provided interaction with others.

Jim lived on the Lander campus for 48 years until his health failed. After a funeral in Lander (I never knew he had so many friends!), he was buried in the Casper cemetery next to our mother.

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