Remembering Mary H. Reid

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 14, 2005

Dedication and service produced greatness in Reid’s character

The weekend of Aug. 5-7 was a happy one for the 1965 class of the former East Suffolk High School. It had the opportunity

to unite once more. But it did not come without a touch of sadness because one of its members, Mary H. Reid, had passed away on Aug. 3. However, the time of her passing made it possible for classmates to view her body and to say good-bye one last time while she lay in state Sunday at Crocker Funeral Home on East Washington Street.

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I learned about the death of Reid on Thursday night while talking to the Rev. Betty Montgomery about covering the dinner and dance of the reunion that was to be held at the Hilton Garden Inn last Saturday evening.

According to Montgomery, Reid had attended some class meetings pertaining to the reunion and had been looking forward to being there. While that wasn’t to be, she was there in spirit and the class presented a plaque in her memory and for her contributions to the reunion’s success during the program portion of the dinner.

I had never met Reid until I began compiling and processing information about eight years ago at the clerk’s office that included marriage licenses and land transfers to be printed in the paper. Prior to that meeting I used to see the name, Mary Lilia Howell, stamped under the late Clerk of Court Henry Murden’s name on all important documents such as marriage licenses, deeds and many other important material related to the city. I would say to myself, when I saw the name, ‘I am so glad that a female employee has such clout and power’. I just knew that this woman was strong with an equally forceful vocabulary. When I met her for the first time (she had since married and the name on documents was Mary H. Reid) I was doubly proud that she was a black female but was impressed because she seemed to walk quietly and &uot;carried a big stick.&uot;

When I was in her territory, I would sometimes observe the way she took care of business and seemed to know every aspect of functions in the clerk’s office. When my husband died in 1998 and I had to visit the court to obtain a qualification of court form to handled his estate, she was very helpful in working me in a time slot since the process would take half of a very busy day here at the paper. While we were working on it, at times some employees in her office would need assistance and she would conduct business with both parties with an ease that demonstrated confidence in what she was doing. She also began to call me when special events took place at her church.

In talking with some of her co-workers, they all conveyed the dedication and confidence that I saw in Reid. One colleague, who asked to remain anonymous, said that Reid tried to work right up to the end of her life but was too sick to remain the entire day in the middle of July a few weeks prior to her death. On that day she also came to work with an oxygen tank. That is when I thought, &uot;Isn’t it odd how many of us have called in on a job complaining to be sick just to get a day off.&uot; If that is not true dedication then I don’t know what is. That same anonymous employee also told me how Reid tried to joke with her when she visited her in the hospital as if to tell her not to worry about her. She also said that Reid confided in her that she was ready to die.

Death didn’t overtake her until she was ready to be with the Lord.

As the Apostle Paul says in 1st Corinthians 15:54-55: &uot;Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?&uot;

When I visited the Suffolk YMCA last Thursday to do my usual treadmill and weight training exercises, there was a basket full of small folded papers with Bible verses on them that the staff placed there for members to take one to brighten their day. The verse that I picked up is taken from Mark 10:43 and states: &uot;Whoever wants to be great must become a servant.&uot;

This verse is Mary Lilia Howell Reid, because as a member of First Baptist Church Mahan St. and its organizations, and as an employee at the Suffolk City Clerk’s office, she was a dedicated and devoted servant. Secondly, if you attended her standing room only wake at the funeral home on Sunday, and standing room only funeral at her church on Monday, which was proof positive that she will always be remembered as being a great person to those who loved her and knew her well.

Evelyn Wall is a retired News-Herald reporter and regular columnist.