Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Remembering Joe Reed

I did not know Joseph K. Reed. But after our club pedalled to his memorial service at First Methodist Church of Pensacola this past Saturday, I wish I had. Several of our members rode with Joe when he was a member of the Freewheelers back in the 1980's, which is why we rode our bikes to the service, and trooped in wearing our bicycle shorts, bike shoes, and jerseys or t-shirts. Larry rode one of Joe's old bikes-- a blue Schwinn Joe took to Europe to ride the Tour de France route. You might picture him as a young man then...well, he was a young man in his 60's. He was a retired physical therapist, having served in the Coast Guard, Veterans Administration, and the U.S. Public Health Service. He had worked many years in Hawaii and Louisiana with patients who had Hansen's Disease (leprosy).

When Joe retired to Pensacola in 1984, he became a full-time volunteer, working with many different organizations including the Salvation Army, Loaves and Fishes, Habitat for Humanity, Baptist Hospital, Manna Food Pantries, and of course, First Methodist Church. He went to Ethiopia to work with leprosy patients there. He was named Escambia County's Outstanding Senior Volunteer in 1998.

You'd think Joe would have little time for anything else, but he was married and had a family, and he and his wife were avid bicyclists. They led bike tours and logged over 19,000 miles in the U.S. and overseas. That's a lot of bike tires, folks.

After the very nice service, we attended the reception at the Perry House next door-- a beautiful, historic old home that is worth seeing (inside there's a coffee shop open to the public ).

We met Joe's family, great people who expressed sincere appreciation for our riding bikes to the service, and especially for riding Joe's old bike. They asked Larry to bring it into the house so they and other people could see it.

I wish I had known Joe. But I'm glad I got to hear the stories, and ride alongside his bike.

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