I went to a funeral visitation over the weekend, for the mother of a family I knew at our old church, a wonderful and beautiful lady who had passed away in her late 80’s. I got to know the family nearly 50 years ago, because they lived not far from me and attended the same church I and my parents did back then, but I had lost touch with most of them since.
And that got me to thinking about our pastor back then, the Reverend B. Allen Reed (the B. was short for Baines). We attended a Presbyterian church in the south side of Columbus, unusual because there weren’t many Presbyterian congregations in Columbus, let alone on the south side. In 1966 the full-time pastor, who was a popular friendly guy with kids close to my age, was transferred to Paw Paw, Michigan. I was sad to see him and his children leave, and I never forgot the name of that town.
It was another two years before the Presbyterian headquarters or regional office filled the job. Before they did, we had a succession of temporary pastors – one young guy who was there a for maybe six months before asking to leave – and they ended up calling Rev. Reed out of retirement. Rev. Reed was an ancient man to me, I’m guessing he was born around 1890 and looked like an old wizened schoolteacher character straight out of a movie in the 1930’s. But such a wonderful, friendly man who could preach from the Bible. And we younger children never had a more supportive guy leading the church, he was always good about answering a child’s questions that would come from out of the blue.
But it was Rev. Reed’s knowledge of the Bible, and his weekly sermons that made the greatest impression on me, from age 9 thru 12. Now, he didn’t have a deep dramatic voice. It had a thin quality – you might even say it was “Reed-y”. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. But he used it like the school teacher he’d once been to get his points across clearly and cleanly.
Rev. Reed retired a second time in 1971 – this time for good – and after going thru the summer with just the church elders keeping the Sunday services going, the Presbyterian Church organization for some reason refused fill the position, and closed and sold the building. My parents looked around for a few weeks, and chose a Methodist church very close to our neighborhood for us to attend. But I lost contact with many of the people from the old church, including the family of the lady who just passed away
So at the funeral home, while talking with the lady’s surviving husband and her children about our shared experiences at that Presbyterian church, it kept coming back to me how influential Rev. Reed had been in my life, possibly more than anyone else except my parents during that time in my life.
In fact, if I think about it, I can still picture exactly what he looked like and what that voice sounded like.
Rev. Reed passed away ten years later. I was an OSU student at the time, living on campus, and my appearance had changed somewhat – taller, longer hair, and I had a beard that I hadn’t trimmed in over six months – but I made my way to the funeral home visitation. Amazingly, Rev. Reed’s son-in-law, who was almost 70 himself, actually recognized me through all the shrubbery on my face. And I told him then how I could still hear that voice talking to us on Sundays.
After yesterday’s visitation, it got me to wondering if someone who is not a close family member or acquaintance will think of my voice as one that made a long-lasting impression on them or influenced their lives in some way. A casual schoolmate, a co-worker, an athlete playing in a game I’m announcing? Or perhaps, someone listening to a commercial voiceover I’ve done? I don’t know if it will happen, but if it does, I hope it’s a good impression and a good influence.
How about you readers out there? What voices have influenced you, especially those from a young age that made the biggest impression on you? And what vocal legacy will you leave behind that others will remember? Feel free to respond by clicking on “Leave A Comment” at the top (please, no spam messages or solicitations, they will be removed).
That’s all for this week. Keep your best voice forward, and remember: someone may be listening!