Edmond Harold Reid, Sr. (94) of Cumming, Georgia, stepped into the arms of Jesus on the morning of Wednesday, May 20, 2020. He passed away from injuries sustained doing what he loved—working on his farm. Called “Emmett,” “E.H.,” “Em Harold,” “Daddy,” “Pawpaw,” and “Papa Reid,” he was known to many as a hard-working farmer. But to those who knew him well, he was also a man who loved the Lord, his family, the land, and just helping people.
He was a man of quiet faith, but his faith drove him to love, to persevere, and to generously serve others. He made sure that his children and younger brothers and sisters found the Lord. He also invited countless people to share meals around his table. He hand-delivered corn, turnip greens, tomatoes, and his favorite—yellow-meated watermelons—to hundreds of people. Countless people counted him a friend. Even in later years, he asked visitors to join him by the fire and delighted in treating them to fresh-roasted peanuts. He was a member of Bethlehem Baptist Church but also attended Longstreet Baptist, Brookwood Baptist, Pleasant View Baptist, Midway Methodist, Castleberry Baptist, Antioch Baptist, First Redeemer, and Coal Mountain Baptist Church.
He once said that he didn’t know how to do much, but he knew how to work. And work is what he loved to do. He could have written the prayer—“God, give me work until my life shall end and life until my work is done.” That is how he lived. As an 8-year-old, he rode his bicycle several miles to pick cotton and was paid by the pound. He said that he hoped to earn more than $1 a day. When asked why, he responded with a twinkle in his eye, that, if he made more than a dollar, he bought candy. As a 94-year old, he still loved to work. He worked his hay field until just days before his departure for Heaven.
He was a fourth-generation farmer and farmed for 81 years—since he was 13 years old. He lived in the house in which he was born on September 22, 1925. In 1938, his father bought the first rubber-tire tractor in Forsyth County, which was used for tilling. He sold his car to purchase the first cultivating tractor in Forsyth County. He farmed land stretching across four counties. He excelled at farming. At the peak of his farming career, he and his sons mowed and baled over 100,000 bales of hay per season, grew 500 acres of corn, maintained over 1,000 acres of fescue pasture, grew 500 head of cattle and 1,500 swine, and grew produce. He and his family were awarded the Centennial Family Farm Award in 1994.
He helped his three sons win over 50 agriculture awards. He was proud to support his sons, and the Reid family was only the second in history to have three brothers earn the American Farmer Degree—the nation’s highest FFA honor.
He joined the agricultural movement in the 1970s and drove his tractor to Washington, D.C. where he spent six weeks during a frigid winter to petition Congress for fair crop prices.
In 2007, he was honored by the Georgia Association of Conservation Supervisors by being inducted into the GACD Hall of Fame. He faithfully served until his death—almost 45 years—as the Supervisor of the Upper Chattahoochee Soil & Water Conservation District. As part of his work with the Soil & Water Conservation District, he presented 75 Bibles to area ministers. He has been featured in Goldkist News, Progressive Farmer, Forsyth County News, Atlanta-Journal Constitutional Newspaper, and Georgia Future Farmer publications.
He was instrumental in the location of the Lanier Technical College, Forsyth Campus, which is situated on a portion of his farm. To provide dedicated students an opportunity to continue learning and reach their goals, he founded and helped fund the Tony and Kathy Reid Scholarship Fund at the College.
Those who knew him admired him for his perseverance. He grew up during the Great Depression and worked to provide for his brothers and sisters. It was because of his tireless efforts, over the course of many years—meeting with detectives, offering a reward, and placing reward posters—that justice was served in the deaths of his beloved son and daughter-in-law Tony and Kathy Reid. He had a pacemaker installed when he was in his 50s. Instead of slowing him down, his family often teased that doctors should “turn it down” so that family members could keep up. In his 80s, he survived brain surgery after a blood clot. Nine years ago, he amazed doctors at how quickly he recovered from open heart surgery: He couldn’t wait to get back on a tractor. He survived more than a hundred bee stings. Through falls, surgeries, and broken bones, he kept going. His dogged determination inspired those around him to press on. Even as his body grew weaker in his 90s, he said that God had made his mind even sharper. He recited family events correctly by month and year and still remembered—to the penny—how much he spent on farm equipment. He read many newspapers and farm magazines and continued to stay current on the latest innovations and developments in farming and agriculture.
But as much as he loved to work the land, his priority was his family. When he first noticed a classmate in school--Louise Bettis, he thought she was beautiful. He knew “she was the one” and pestered a friend to arrange a date with her until she relented. After their marriage in 1944, they worked hard to raise three sons and a daughter on the farm that had been in his family for generations. As a family, they worked together, played together, prayed together, and went to church together. He encouraged his children to pursue their dreams. In addition to helping his sons (Harold, Danny, and Tony) through FFA, he helped his daughter (Brenda) raise a calf so that she could buy a used piano and take piano lessons. He also encouraged her to enroll in college—something he had never had the opportunity to do. He was the oldest of 12 children and maintained close relationships with all of his siblings. His grandchildren and great-grandchildren loved to visit “Pawpaw” or “Papa Reid,” a treat that he also enjoyed.
He has been a larger than life presence in many lives. His humble spirit, inspiring determination, generous heart, boyish smile, and plain wisdom will be greatly missed. But he left a rich lifetime of love. For that, his family and friends are forever grateful.
He is preceded in death by his wife of 52 years, Louise Bettis Reid; son and daughter-in-law, Tony and Kathy Reid; son-in-law, John Ralph Johnson; mother and father, J. Harold and Ola Reid; brothers, Glenn Reid, Sonny Reid; sister Judy Fields; and special friend, Estell Venable.
He is survived by sons, Harold (Pat) Reid of Cumming and Danny (Wanda) Reid of Cumming; and daughter, Brenda Johnson of Cumming. He is also survived by 5 grandchildren: Brian, Stacey, and Brad Reid, and Brett (Rachael) Johnson, all of Cumming, and Heather (George) Kandt of Overland Park, Kansas.
He is also survived by great-grandchildren: Alexa Reid, Dylan Reid, Julien Reid of Cumming, Austin Reid (Ranger of 75th Regiment of US Army), Dustin Sharp of Alpharetta, Tobie Johnson of Woodstock, and Mary Blakely, Emily, John, and Joshua Johnson of Cumming.
He is survived by 2 brothers, Doug Reid of Monroe, Dow (Joyce) Reid of Dawsonville, and 6 sisters, Jeannie (Jack) Hartman of Cumming, Joanne Cowart of Brookhaven, Ruth Pirkle of Marietta, Becky (Tom) Dunnagan of Angier, NC., Diane Martin of Dawsonville, and Linda (James) Hughes of Cumming. He is also survived by sister-in-law, Evelyn Bagley of Cumming, friend and caregiver Mavis Chiyambiro, and a host of nieces and nephews.
The family will hold a private service, and there will be a celebration of life at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be provided for the Tony and Kathy Reid Memorial Scholarship Fund, Forsyth Campus, at Lanier Technical College, 3410 Ronald Reagan Blvd., Cumming, GA 30041 .
“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” Colossians 3:23
Ingram Funeral Home & Crematory, 210 Ingram Ave, Cumming, GA 30040 is in charge of arrangements. Condolences may be made at www.ingramfuneralhome.com.