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story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/LARA HIGHTOWER Close friends of Roy Reed gathered on June 6 to dedicate a new bench placed in his honor at Paradise Valley Golf Course, where Reed played golf several times a week for years.

On June 6, a close-knit group of friends and colleagues of journalism luminary Roy Reed gathered at Paradise Valley Golf and Athletic Club to raise a toast and dedicate a new bench installed on the course in Reed's honor.

Also in attendance was Reed's widow, Norma. The couple married in 1952.

The group, affectionately known as "The Curmudgeons," has been meeting in some iteration for close to 20 years, though members have dropped out and been added over the decades. The core group of about 10 members meets every Wednesday for lunch at Mermaids Restaurant in Fayetteville, and about half of that group gets together for rounds of golf several times a week at Paradise Valley, said member Terry Jones.

That tradition included Reed until his death this past December.

Jones said he had already heard of the Curmudgeons golfing group prior to being invited to participate.

"Everyone would either rush to get in front of the group or wait to get on the back nine if they were on the front nine," said Jones with a chuckle. "They were really slow for a couple of reasons -- because they couldn't see too well, and they had to hunt for balls. The other reason was Roy: He always said, 'I will not be rushed.' He was never bothered by people pressing us."

Reed's penchant for taking his time on the course was affectionately tweaked in the inscription of the bench, which reads, "Roy Reed, 1930-2017, 'I will not be rushed.'"

Reed was legendary in the field of journalism. He worked for The New York Times from 1965 until 1978, where the Piney, Ark., native used his southern background to bring unique insight and news coverage to the Civil Rights-era South. When he retired from the paper, Reed moved back to his home state and taught in the University of Arkansas department of journalism until 1995. He was the author of four books.

On Wednesday, however, it was his role as friend that took center stage as The Curmudgeons affectionately remembered their compatriot.

Bob Pomeroy noted that he wasn't slow on the golf course as much as he was "deliberate."

"I always thought he was one of the best storytellers," said David Edwards. "He had a really good memory of what he did in the past. And he saw important things happen."

"Roy, like a good newspaperman, was always curious," remembered Mort Gitelman. "He was always asking questions."

"He had wonderful stories," said Jones, who has nearly completed a book about the history of the prosecutor's office that he was working on with Reed when Reed died. "He was a representative of The New York Times in Tibet and England for a long time, and then he had the southern beat for a long time. He had story after story to tell about those places and people he met, so when you got to be his partner on the golf cart, it was really a pleasure. And he had a great sense of humor."

Group member Gerald Jordan took a moment to recall some of the other members of the group that have been lost over the years, including Bob Douglas, John Harris, Dr. Bill Harrison, professor Bill Harrison and Tom Kennedy.

Mermaids' employee Lance Templeton, who has been serving the group every week for four years, was present for the ceremony. He noted that -- despite the prickly nickname -- this close group of friends is more kind, less curmudgeonly.

"They have almost become a group of second dads to me," he says. "When I was in the hospital, they sent a server who was visiting me some money because I was out of work so much because of illness. That is the opposite of curmudgeonly, I think."

On this particular Wednesday, the group assembled around Reed's new bench and raised a glass in honor of their friend. A lone bagpiper, David Bridges, began a mournful tune in the distance. The music was unexpected, a gesture from the Pleasant Valley general manager, Al Sexton, who has gotten to know the group over their years of playing on the course. The group was quiet until the music faded away, then they turned to say goodbye to each other.

"We wanted to find a way to keep his memory alive out here," said Jones of the bench. "And we just thought this would be a nice way to do that. Maybe, someday, some little kid will be reading that bench and say, 'Oh! Who was Roy Reed?' And somebody will remember him."

Lara Jo Hightower can be reached by email at lhightower@nwadg.com.

NAN Profiles on 06/10/2018

Print Headline: A toast to a great golfer

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