Thomas Lloyd Reed, Sr., May 3, 1916 – July 21, 2010

It is with a combination of sadness, appreciation, and – paradoxically – a quiet sense of rightness that we pass along word of the death of Tom Reed, Sr., long-time director and son of one of the founders of Pemigewassett. Tom died peacefully at his house on the Hill at Camp, surrounded by his family and by friends and colleagues of many years.

Tom had been challenged by failing health for a number of months, and it was remarkably gratifying for him to be able to make it back to Pemi in June. Once here, Tom was visibly buoyed by his return to the spot and to the community that he had given so very much to over the years. He attended the last meeting of pre-season staff training and gave his wonted inspirational speech about how something as routine as a distance swim can work true wonders in the life of a boy. He enjoyed the annual 4th of July Peerade, watched several baseball and soccer games from the sidelines, and, in a manner many of you will smile to remember, bellowed from his porch on one particularly sunny morning as sleepy boys stumbled out of their cabins, “Leap out of bed with a glad cry. Let’s do some jumping jacks and then into the lake!”

Tom was where he wanted to be, with the people he loved and who loved him. He saw the 103rd season begin with energy and purpose, and the contentment and solace which that brought him may have been what allowed him to slip away. The staff had been told several days ago that Tom was poised for his next big adventure, but word was delivered to the whole community this morning at breakfast by Charlie Malcolm in a very understated but powerful way, inflected by joy for a life well lived and a mission sustained.

More will be said about Tom in other settings, and to other audiences. Let me close, though, with the text of a wonderful tribute that was paid to Tom upon his retirement as managing director at the Final Banquet of the 1987 season. It accompanied a photo montage of that very successful season. Drafted by Fred Seebeck, Rob Grabill, Lance Latham, and Dean Ellerton, it does as good a job as could be done of summarizing the many blessings Tom brought to Pemi during the six decades he had already thrown into the running of camp. Two dozen additional years spent encouraging teams, leading songs, and imparting a long life’s worth wisdom to the many who looked to him for guidance have only solidified the incomparable legacy he leaves with us all.

Representing the members of the 1987 Pemigewassett family, I present to you this symbol of our affection for you and your lifetime of devotion to Camp. You have been our leader, our supporter, our advisor, our fan, our father, and our boss. This summer you have shared your yarns and anecdotes with us; you have graced us with your love of music, be it Beethoven on CD or The Junior Camp Song in the Messhall; you have encouraged us to be prompt, well-mannered, healthy, and clean; you have enjoined us to be intense and gracious sportsmen; and you have shown us, through your dedication to your job as Director and through your good humor, that one’s work can be a labor of love. Though you and Betsy will return to “the Hill” for many years to come (we hope), we shall sorely miss your prudent judgment, your warm words of encouragement, your meticulous organization, and your charming quips and jokes. More than any one person, Tom, you are Camp Pemi – and though camp will not cease to exist upon your retirement, it will change in subtle and meaningful ways. We therefore recognize tonight the end of an era, the changing of the guard. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for your unselfish and enduring love for Camp and for us all. And may God bless you and Betsy with good luck, long life, and joy.

For twenty-three years, Tom and Betsy continued to enjoy those blessings. They were the richly-deserved gifts that come to those who have themselves given so much. We will let you all know as plans evolve for remembering Tom and celebrating the great love he shared with his partner of seventy years.

“And when the battle’s over, he shall wear a crown in the New Jerusalem!”

–Tom Reed, Jr.
22 July 2010

22 thoughts on “Thomas Lloyd Reed, Sr., May 3, 1916 – July 21, 2010

  1. Please accept sincere condolences on behalf of the extended Schafer family. Tommy, your dad was great man. What your family built has changed the lives of thousands of people and has truly made the world a better place. I hope he found peace has he spent his final hours watching over what he took so much time to help create. We will miss him.
    With Love,
    The Schafers

  2. It is with deep sadness that we have received the news of Tom’s passing. His intellect, wisdom, energy and strength of character set the standard for so many of us.

    He was such an extraordinarily well rounded person: compassionate, organized, thoughtful, athletic, musical – of course these are the attributes that were encouraged in everyone’s everyday life at PEMI. Tom was not a personification of the camp, the camp was in many ways an extension of him.

    It is sometimes said that the measure of any person is their effect on others. Tom’s influence on generations of people has been profound.

    I will miss many things about him, even the occasional stern look he would give me – an unspoken mild admonition that I could do better.

    Much love,
    Hank Hayes

    (with love from Sharon, Matt & Mike)

    P.S. I will miss the green pants as well.

  3. Tom, I was sorry to hear about the loss of your father. He was a great man, who created a great legacy. He helped create a love of so many things in so many people at such a formative time in their lives. I still fondly remember so many things about camp especially your dad leading songs in the mess hall or talking to Peter Ridgeway and I as we wandered the camp.

    D. Paul Breiten

  4. I was deeply saddened to hear the news that Tom had died. I will always remember him as my Dad away from home during those formative five summers spent at Pemi. He was so steady, so warm and encouraging, and with your incredible mother, gave me the security I so needed. The Camp is an amazing institution and I consider myself blessed to have played a small role in it. It greatly influenced and still influences my life 50 years later (what a thought!). Just moments ago I was speaking with my step mother about a caterpillar she had discovered in the garden. It took me back to the days at Pemi, where with Clarence Dike and Dick Daniels, I raised so many caterpillars into the wondrous moths and butterflies they became. May your father’s soul soar with them today. I know his spirit will live on at Lower Baker Pond forever and in so many of our hearts as well.

  5. Tom Reed and my Dad were friends from Pemi days, but I adored him in my own right, getting to know him better and relish his letters and conversation during the period when my sons were campers and we hosted the Cleveland Pemi reunions. Even last month, when I saw him at Pemi, I could count on Tom to touch on a staggering variety of topics in one brief conversation: from woodthrushes to G & S to names and epics from ancient Pemi history. I was blessed with the opportunity to visit Tom in the Welcome Home in Oberlin in May, where, despite multiple ailments, his wit was as sharp and his mien as cheerful as ever. My prize memory — one which I pray I’ll remember when I reach my 90’s– was of Tom sitting in a wheelchair waiting to be wheeled down to PT, the oxygen tube having just been taken from his nose, and joking with one of the adoring crowd of nurses, orderlies, and doctors who attended him wherever he went. With a smile and a chuckle at his own situation, he observed, “I can’t imagine what it would be like to live this long without a sense of humor!”
    I knew this was coming, but I still can’t believe this bright candle has gone out — in fact, it hasn’t. It’s just shining in another room.

  6. I am saddened and sorry to hear of the death of Thomas L. Reed Sr. He was Pemi’s rock for decades. I still remember my first year as a Pemi camper (1973), when he was explaining the rules in the Mess Hall. When taps blows at 9:00pm sharp, there is to be no talking. Not 30 seconds after the bugle, right after the bugle. Also he would mention each and every year, that if there were no counslers or directors at camp, campers would have a miserable summer, with no one to teach them anything. I want to extend my sympathy to the Reed family, and the rest of the Pemi community, alumni, etc. Tom and Betsy celebrated their 69th anniversary this year, Al and Bertha Fauver celebrate theirs on tuesday.

  7. I stayed back in 1st grade for being “hyper active.” Everyone treated me like I had a problem
    until I went to camp Pemi (1972) as a 9 yr. old boy. Tom explained to me that it was OK to have lots of energy and actually a good thing if channeled in the right direction at the right time. His positive spin on my “problem” made me
    feel good about myself. I think this simple story is characteristic of what Tom was all about….making boys and young men better people by focusing on their strengths and building on them.

  8. It has been a privilege to have known Tom and the Reed Family for my entire life. Tom was one of my father’s best friends since their days as boys and counselors at Pemi. Our families gathered at Pemi for post-seasons with my brother Ted and sisters Katie and Eloise, and on Camp visits during my and Ted’s camper and counselor years and those of my sons Karl and Zach, Ted’s sons Kevin, Greg and Tyler, and Eloise’s son Bridger McGaw. We all gathered for an annual winter ski vacation for about 40 years.

    Tom set a wonderful example and was a touchstone for me. Facing decisions personal, political or professional, I would often think, “Now what would Tom Reed have to say about this?” His distinct voice in tone and content is so easily remembered and will be deeply cherished. Ramrod straight in posture (at first base, in Messhall announcements and song, at the wheel of the tractor, on the bench at Campfire song, on the ski slope), and in thought, behavior, and conversation.

    The complete gentleman, with intellect, humor, and compassion (and a Pemi high jump record) of the highest order. Graceful athlete and the epitome of sportsmanship.

    Tom deserved all the good luck (starting with the good fortune of meeting Betsy!), long life, and joy that came his way. And didn’t he share it all with us so well!

    Thank you, Tom!

    Sandy See

  9. To Betsy Reed: i heard about this from my grandson and son, both of whom went and prospered at Pemi. I know Tom and Betsy at oberlin, and will miss Tom. Pemi was Tom, and Tom was Pemi. Bless you both. You have given so much to all of us and to to our children. Than;k you.
    Jim Sunshine

  10. It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that our family received this news. Please accept our deepest condolences on Tom’s passing. He was a truly great man and will live forever in the hearts and fond memories of the countless people who had the privilege of knowing him, both at Pemi and elsewhere. But to those of us in the current generation who love Pemi, he will always be remembered as the patriarch, and personal embodiment of all the outstanding qualities a person can have. Tom’s life was one well-lived, a life to be proud of and to be emulated.

    I have many fond memories of Tom. In recent years when I would see him, he would always be sure to remember my father and uncle who were campers/staff members with him in the 30’s. As a camper and staff member myself in the 70’s and 80’s, I certainly remember his calls for “Quiet Please!” in the dining hall for announcements, his reminders of “Don’t be late!”, and his assurances of “character building” after a particularly chilly polar bear. During those years, I developed a tremendous respect for Tom as a leader and mentor on how we should conduct ourselves and treat each other. It is fulfilling to me that during my son Dan’s five seasons as a camper from 2003-2007, he also had the joy of knowing Tom at Pemi, getting to experience Tom leading the occasional song in the dining hall and singing at the campfire. Perhaps my final memory is from last August when Dan and I were at camp for a short visit and had the pleasure of hearing Tom and Betsy sing the “Rubber Monkey Song” at the Senior beach campfire during a beautiful Saturday evening sunset.

    I suggest that we all close our eyes, envision Tom leading us as we sing the words of the “Campfire Song” to ourselves while thinking of him and what he did for all of us. I believe it is most appropriate that he was at camp when he passed, and that his final weeks and days were in the place he loved most, surrounded by those he loved. The entire Reed and Pemi families are in our thoughts and prayers.

    With much love and appreciation,
    Jim Willard

  11. It is with a profound sense of regret that I express my condolences to the Reed and Pemi family. I remember vividly the moment of meeting Tom (and Betsy and Al and Bertha)at an open house in 1975. I was a coccooned 10-year-old who was deeply skeptical of the value of a camp experience. I can still see myself walking up the driveway of Jack and Janet Rowell’s house, determined to resist any adult appeals to attend that summer. That determination melted within ninety seconds of meeting this warm, courtly, urbane gentleman. I knew immediately–literally–that I wanted to be a part of anything with which he and his beautiful wife were connected. How many thousands of boys have had their lives fundamentally influenced in the same way? Know, Tom, that that former ten-year-old is indeed better for many things you’ve done or said and that goodwill in your heart has offset mistakes of his head on many occasion, and he is forever grateful.

    May your crown shine in the New Jerusalem as brilliantly as it did with us here.

  12. Deeply saddened to learn of Tom Sr.’s passing. A father figure to all whose lives he touched, he leaves a legacy of excellence that will forever be Pemi. I vividly recall sitting in Tom and Betsy’s living room in Providence when I was ten years old and as a classmate of Tom Jr. The Pemi slide show presentation was captivating. Soon after, as a Pemi camper,
    later counselor, and currently head of school, I can hear Tom Sr.’s voice filling our hearts and minds with a joyful spirit, whether it be through song or a sideline cheer. He demanded high standards and had the ability to draw out the best in each individual. Tom,Sr. Is one of the key figures in my life who drew me to education, along with a love of sports, the outdoors, and the arts. I am glad my wife, Janet(Camp Wawenock alum) had the chance to meet you at the Pemi 100th.Tom,Sr., you will be dearly missed. You left your mark
    in so many positive ways on generations of Pemi campers, young and old,

  13. My deepest condolences to Betsy, TomJr, and all the Reed family.

    Tom Sr. inspired me and so many others. He gave us a kind of code for life, a sense of how we should and could each confidently contribute, and a gentle touch of music, humor, and faith.

    Just one favorite memory among my seven years on Lower Baker will always include Tom greeting campers at reveille with his wacky exercises and wake up program (ex: “spastic exercises”).

    A truly great man I have often, and will always, think of with a smile.

  14. Dear Betsy, TRJR and the whole Reed family,

    I was so saddened to hear from my family today of TRSR’s passing. Tom was truly an inspirational person for me, with his guidance coming from his actions, followed by quiet, measured words. I am reassured that he was able to be at home at camp when his time came.

    I tried to honor him as I sang my son to sleep tonight with “Now the Day is Over”, a song that I fully associate with the Sunday service at Pemi, an event so obviously beloved (and crafted) by Tom.

    In the morning, when I do my exercises, I will smile when I think of how he exhorted us to jump from our cabins and “get the juices jangling”!

    I remember the time he drove me to Mary Hitchcock, after I had clanged my head into another’s during a soccer game. His quiet, patient manner saw me through a painful day.

    And as grateful as I am for all these things, I’m so touched that he immediately recognized and warmly greeted me at the celebration of the 100th. That, after my having been away from Pemi for years. He took us into the Pemi family and never let go.

    Betsy, TRJr–he is the very model of the modern mature gentleman. He will remain so for me and for many others. My deepest sympathies to you.

    With much love,
    Henry Spindler

  15. Dear Tom:

    We were very sorry to hear about the loss of your father. We have joined the Pemi community recently, but were lucky to meet your father last July during an exploratory visit to Pemi, when we drove up to New England to pick a sleep-away camp for our older son, Julian. Watching your father lead the boys singing in the Mess Hall was a very special experience for the entire family. The joy and sense of camaraderie we saw in the faces of so many boys, united by the simple act of singing, made us realize that something unique was going on at this camp. Your father’s joyful interaction with the boys definitely had a part in our falling in love with Pemi.
    With much appreciation,
    The Tutuncu-Macias family

  16. Betsy and Tom Jr.,

    Walt Newcomb sent me the sad news about Tom’s passing, and I would just like to add my sincere condolences to the many others above.

    Virtually everything I love to do in life was inspired by my 10 summers at Pemi, and Tom Sr. was a major part of that inspiration.

    Thank you Tom.

    Scott Anthony

  17. Dick and I knew Tom and Betsy individually and then jointly. Tom was my Art D-1 professor when I was student at Pembroke. His approach was to involve us in the process of each artist. The classes also looked at archetecture. Although I didn’t follow that path I credit Tom with all the additions and renovations to each home we have owned. To Betsy I credit my sewing skills. Her design talent was appreciated at Handicraft Club. With her guidance My daughter and I were “well turned out” for special events – even a wedding gown.
    Dick met Tom and Betsy through the choir at Central Congegational Church. Those years are very happy memories for him.
    Tom and Betsy have been special in our lives. Our prayers go to the whole family.

  18. I was a second cook at Pemi 1970-1975 under a
    wonderful Chef, Ernie Laro.
    Over the years (many of them!) I have discovered what Pemi has taught me in my journey in life.
    Tom was a kind, caring man who I will always remember in a positive way. This world was lucky to have him.
    He never liked my cooking!
    Ed Ricker

  19. Betsy and Tommy,

    I’ve been reading this blog and the PEMI 100 years book over the past weeks. Each time I am reminded how much Tom contributed to my life in so many amazing ways. My uncle Sandy wrote above about how the Reed and See/McGaw/Pitts/Engler families have been intertwined in life in and outside of camp for many many years. Years of adventures we all treasure. And what also jumps out at me in the happiness in remembering Tom’s life is how much I benefited from the coaching and life lessons he taught the counselors who would teach me and the seniors who would be role models to me from junior camp to my own counselor years. There are many to thank- Rob Grabill, Larry Davis, Jim Willard, Eddie Sterns, Jaime and Esteban Garcia, Grant and Nikki Wilkinson, Chris Carter, Phil Burnett, Sam Martin, Peter Cowles, Rob Johnson, Charlie Malcom, Fred Seebeck, Russ Brummer, my cousin Karl, and dozens and dozens of others from my seasons 1985,86,88-90;-1992 and 1994.

    So Tom — Thank you. Thank you for teaching them and for helping us all appreciate the happiness that is the White Mountains and Camp Pemi.

    I am so proud of the teachers, public servants, fathers, brothers, lawyers, doctors, and leaders that Tom influenced and PEMI continues to celebrate.

    Tonight and in many nights to come – I will continue laughing and singing my G&S and dining hall songs knowing we are each better for the things you did and said to each of us.

    much love,

    Bridger McGaw

  20. Betsy and Tom,

    The Ridgeway Boys and Jim Bone send our love and sympathy to the entire Reed family at the loss of Tom.
    I just returned from a visit with my “Papa” Jim (94). Papa was a fellow camper with TRSR in the late 1920’s and early 30’s. I remember they played baseball together. Pop always revered Tom’s skilled pitching as a boy at Pemi. As the Director of Pemi, I have been blessed with wonderful memories of Tom from my time as a camper. He was my surrogate Grandfather my first summer away when I was 9.
    He got me motivated with morning calisthenics, got me there on time “DON’T BE LATE CAMPERS”, and lead me in song. If I live to nearly 100, his impact on my life will still be felt.
    My Papa is nearly 100 now. His memory is fading. Conversation is sparse. The one way I could really get through to him on this visit was to sing with him. He remembers the time when he was a boy at Pemi, and we sang Pemi songs.

    Tom has retired to his house on the hill.
    His spirit is eternal on the shores of Lower Baker.

  21. I’m sorry to learn of Tom Reed’s passing. I was fortunate to visit with him and his hospitable wife in their cabin at Pemi two summers ago. Tom knew my father, Max Chapman, when my Dad was a counselor at Pemi summers 1928-1936 and he told me my Dad was ” a very good athlete” which made me very proud of my father and also very happy to have met this man who has meant so much to Pemi.
    I imagine my Dad would be so pleased to know that one of his campers had such a distinquished life!

  22. I shall always remember Tom Reed Sr. As a camper I witnessed his outstanding athletic skills as he played second base for the counselors team and out high jumped all of us on the track. A friend and mentor to all. Pemi is bulit on the character and commitment of the Reed family and I shall always cherish the memory of Tom SR and Doc Reed. Our hearts are heavy but our memories are warm and enduring!!

    Bill Bradford Pemi ’43-’53

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