ELLENBORO -A few hundred Ritchie County residents waived goodbye to the county's greeter earlier this week.
Jack Reed, the Ellenboro greeter, died last week at home, surrounded by family. Monday he was laid to rest.
As Reed's funeral procession wound its way from Harrisville to the cemetery in Ellenboro, more than a hundred people lined the road to wave goodbye.
Photo Courtesy of Judi McCullough
Residents, including members of the volunteer fire department and the elementary school, line U.S. 50 to wave to Jack Reed’s funeral procession. Reed was a fixture for more than a decade in the county, standing along the roadside to wave at passing motorists.
"It was the most awesome thing I have ever seen in my life," said Sherri Reed Slaven, Reed's daughter.
Jack Reed suffered severe medical issues in the 1990s that left him unable to work. As part of his recuperation, he would sit or stand along the road waving at passing motorists. He became a fixture in Ritchie County for more than a decade, standing along W.Va. 16 and old U.S. 50, waving to people. He maintained tablets to keep track of motorists who waved back or honked.
In 2009, Reed was presented a plaque for citizenship by Ellenboro officials declaring him the Official Greeter of Ellenboro. He was honored by the Ellenboro Volunteer Fire Department by naming him an honorary firefighter. He also served as marshal for the Ellenboro Christmas Parade.
Last fall, he was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer that spread to his bones and spine. He died May 16.
Slaven said more than 200 people came to the funeral home in Harrisville to pay their respects. Just as many lined the streets for the funeral procession, which included a police escort.
As the cortege progressed from Harrisville to Ellenboro, a few hundred people gathered along W.Va. 16 near the U.S. 50 underpass to wave. In addition to members of the Ellenboro Volunteer Fire Department, school buses brought kids down from the grade school.
"There are no words to describe it," Slaven said.
Brian Morton helped create a memorial to Reed, putting up an empty chair with flowers and candles in honor of Reed. Morton approached Reed's family about the idea, but defers credit to a pair of Ritchie County students.
He said Reed waved at motorists from near the high school and students grew up seeing Reed along the road.
The waving tribute was conceived by Austin Weekley. Allison Edwards came up with the idea of the chair.
"The idea was perfect," Morton said. "We put it on Facebook, telling people when to show up.
"Allison thought it would be a great tribute to him, so we did that as well," Morton added. "It was pretty awesome. Our kids at Ritchie County are pretty good kids, awesome kids."
Morton figures close to 200 people lined the road as Reed's procession passed. Slaven said others stepped outside their homes to wave.
"As the procession was going through, people would pull their cars off the road and wave. I've never seen anything like it," she said. "There were people lined up clear up to the cemetery."
Morton said it was great to see so many people lined up to wave one last time to Reed.
"I honestly fought back the tears when I saw the amount of people who came out," he said.
Slaven said her dad was laid to rest in a great spot, overlooking the roads where he stood.
"We know he is waving at everybody up there," she said.