by Leonore Gordon
Through our shared Parkinsons Disease, I’ve had the honor of loving Reggie and calling him my friend, and “family,” for a very short, but blessed, four years. Reggie was an inspiration on which to model my own life. Eighty-two years young when he died, this incomparable human being had a lot to emulate: he had big-time class, brains, leadership, a wicked sense of humor, and a heart and social conscience bigger than this planet. Reggie loved beyond his own doorstep with true intention, and he put that huge heart, and his purse-strings, to use in so many ways to make the world better. Others will tell of the many boards he sat on, and the programs he helped to found, including Theater Row! Above all, Reggie was loved- was it the finally-humbled Wizard who said to the Tin Man as he handed him his medal, that our true worth is not how much we love, but how much we are loved by others? Well, I say that both are a pretty good measure, and Reggie certainly deserves medals for both. Just look around you today.
Last Tuesday, my friend Cyndy and I were alone with Reggie in his room at the hospital as he passed. What a profound experience… Bobbye had called from her home to let me know the end was imminent, and Cyndy and I were lucky enough to get there in time. We knew Bobbye had already said good-bye, and we each did the same, both telling him that it was ok to let go if he needed to. Moments later, he left us. Cyndy’s first words after the doctor pronounced him gone were, “Reggie was a man of integrity.”
We were joined soon after by other BPG friends, and as some wept, we all sang to Reggie’s spirit, just as we’d all sung with him in our singing class. We sang Amazing Grace and Sweet Chariot. As Bobbye arrived, we’d begun singing, “Can’t Help Loving That Man of Mine.”