In his eulogy for his brother Robert F. Kennedy, Ted Kennedy said, “My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.”
That’s who Jerry Reed was.
Our teacher, friend, mentor, breakfast companion, traveling tour guide, Santa Claus, and local hero gave to us what only a few people can — unconditional love, wisdom, and friendship.
Hero is defined as “a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.” Jerry Reed was the embodiment of a hero. He did not win wars. He did not rescue anyone from a fire. What Jerry Reed did was far more heroic. He listened. He cared. He loved you when you felt like no one else did. Jerry Reed was the constant whisper that guided so many us to a greater understanding and calmer words and friendlier spirits.
Each of us who had him as a teacher has our own very specific Jerry Reed moments and stories. Those of you who were his colleagues, friends, and parents of his students know the kind words, honest wisdom, and you share your own Jerry Reed moments. He was simply impactful in his very subtle, simple way.
To know Jerry Reed was to know a man guided by kindness, thirsty for friendship, and curious about all facets of life.
Beyond the classroom and teaching, Jerry Reed was simply a boy seeking happiness. The Colorado Rockies were a passion, and he wore the jersey well. Laughter was necessary. Conversation was the source of life.
I graduated from Alamosa High School 10 years ago, but I never stopped learning from Jerry Reed. In school he taught me to form a written argument and how to understand my civic duty. In life he taught me to be kind; he taught me to be passionate; he taught me to be curious.
As we say goodbye to our friend, we might find the best way to remember him is to live by his example: be kind, love your fellow man, remember you and your neighbor are important.
In life, to me, Jerry Reed was the ever present breeze that whispered wisdom and guided me when I most needed it.
I’ll be sure to listen every time the wind blows, and I’m sure I will hear Jerry Reed whispering to us all, “You are loved.”