(Reida once told me that she liked how I described her as "resplendent" in a blog post. She said that was one of her favorite words.)
Reida was many things: an educator, an actress, an investigator, an administrator, and always ever a woman of raucous style and a spirit to match.
Reida was a woman of many hats... literally! To say nothing of the plethora of feather boas that she was often seen wearing. Many times over the years she would don hat and boa and come to the libraries of elementary schools throughout Rockingham County and read to the children, who knew her as "the Feather Lady".
She taught English at the old Bethany High School. How did she wind up with that job? The superintendent at the time, Allan "Doc" Lewis, knew her from professional acting. And he told her that he needed someone who "could scare the hell out of those students!" That's a true story: Doc told me and Reida confirmed it some years later. Maybe she did scare them at that. But I also know that it was only because she sincerely cared a lot about young people and encouraging them to apply their minds.
I first came to know Reida around 1997, across some e-mail correspondence regarding a very peculiar episode in local history (two of her students began a project for English class and it wound up nearly getting their community to secede from the United States: that's a true story too!). We finally met in person in 2002, at a meeting of the Rockingham County Board of Education. And then four years later both of us wound up as candidates for the five new at-large seats. Reida won handily, and once again served the county as a member of the Board of Education. In all, she was on the board for eight years.
Most of all though, I remember Reida as the very dear friend who I came to have in recent years. Someone who provided not only kind and wise advice, but was also a listening ear and practically a shoulder to cry on during an especially dark period of my life. For that, I will always be thankful.
It is with a sad heart that I must report that Reida Drum passed away yesterday, at the age of 75. She leaves behind many family and friends, along with a vibrant impression that will forever be etched into grateful memory.
I'll miss you Reida. But I've also no doubt that you're parading down the streets of gold this morning, wearing your finest hat and feather boa.