Dedication to Lewis Reed
I called him “Pop”
Today marks my grandfather’s birthday. Lewis Reed was born in Darnestown, Maryland on November 25, 1887 and was the founder of Reed Brothers Dodge. My grandfather was an amazing man, and he taught me many things during my 17 years of childhood. It’s safe to say out of all the people in my lifetime, my grandfather was one of the most influential people in my life. If he were still around, he would be 128 years old today.
In this special post, I thought I’d take a moment to recount a few of the wonderful memories my grandfather has given me that has helped make me into the person I am today.
I’ve never met a man who worked harder than my grandfather and I’ve tried to emulate that admirable quality. He went to work every day until the day he died. Some people might have called him a workaholic, but he never gave anything less than 100% to a job or task. He has handed down his natural leadership abilities, which have helped me achieve a number of career “firsts” while I was with the The United States Air Force Band, and ultimately reach the top enlisted position as the first female Command Chief of a premier Air Force unit.
Lead by Example
Growing up in the car business, one of my favorite things to do as a kid was to go to the dealership with my grandfather on weekends. My grandfather was always on the showroom floor or walking around the dealership talking with customers and the employees. What I didn’t know at the time, was that by being accessible and not spending a lot of time in his office behind a desk, he was actually building rapport and trust with his customers and employees. Because of this, I always tried to make myself visible to my co-workers and not be seen as a leader that managed from a distance.
Learning to Change a Flat Tire
This is one of life’s lessons he taught me and one I will never forget. While most little girls were handed a box of Crayola Crayons and a Cinderella coloring book, my grandfather proposed some quality time to teach me how to change a tire. Somehow, the tire on his car had gone flat while sitting in the garage. He taught me step-by-step how to change the flat tire. I’m certainly no expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I am very grateful to him for seeing the value in teaching me this.
Shooting a Gun
My grandfather taught me how to shoot a .22 rifle back in the 1960’s when I was a teenager. He spent time showing me how to operate the gun, the safety rules of handling the gun, how to aim, and how to slowly pull, not jerk, the trigger. He used to let me shoot the rifle in the basement of his house. I would fire though the door from one end of the finished basement into the unfinished part into a huge block of wood with a paper target on it that would (hopefully) catch the bullet.
Knack for Fixing Things
I seemed to have inherited my grandfather’s knack for fixing things … AND taking them apart. When I got a little older he gave me access to his tools and taught me how to use them. Because of him, when I was about about 14 years old, I completely disassembled and reinstalled all the keys on my brand new saxophone. Oddly, this later led me into a larger role of repairing musical instruments for a local Music & Arts Studio.
Learning to Drive
My grandfather taught me how to drive a car even before I was able to see over the top of the steering wheel. He used to let me reach my foot over from the middle passenger seat to push on the gas pedal. Soon after, he let me sit on his lap and steer. I was barely able to see over the steering wheel, but while he was working the clutch and brake, I was driving!
Work Hard and Don’t Quit
My grandfather’s greatest gift to me was the drive to persevere. When you look back and consider what has taken place in the world in the past 100 years or so, you gain a perspective of what my grandfather faced. He overcame a lot of obstacles throughout his life. He steered his dealership through World War I, The Great Depression and World War II. When Reed Brothers had no new cars to sell for three and a half years and many dealers went bankrupt, he converted his car showroom into a display room and sold GE washing machines and other appliances. That was proof for me that anything is possible. This example taught me to run with my dreams and never give up. No matter how many times people say it can’t be done, I’ve learned to always follow my dreams.
There are several things that can be done with a person’s legacy. We can completely forget it. We can constantly recount it while never emulating it. Or, we can evaluate it, sift it out, and reap the rewards of putting the positive lessons into practice in our own lives. My grandfather has been gone many years now (48 to be exact). But, he is never gone from my heart. What my grandfather taught me as I grew up — some just very simple things; others are very valuable life lessons that I will never forget. Thanks, Pop!