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Rober Reid Remembered

June 21, 2010

Robert Reid was a very special friend of mine. My late husband and I visited him in Waco and he joined us in Fort Worth for festive events with his cousin, Van Cliburn. He called me last Thanksgiving to see if I was coping after my husband's death, and he continued to keep in touch. He was not only a fantastic professor but was a special person with an infectious smile and deep sense of worth. It was my pleasure to be involved with his receiving his honorary doctorate because I was a Regent at that time. What a happy day that was for all of us. Heaven is richer with his presence, and he joins his twin sister there. May we remember him with gratitude. I so appreciate the opportunity to praise Robert Reid.

Nancy Thurmond, BA '47

Robert Reid was my favorite professor--Guy B. Harrison close behind--during my five years at Baylor. He inspired me to include historical research and writing as a part of my Latin American missionary/professor career. Reid was also a good preacher. I remember the sermon-like speech he delivered to my congregation in Franklin, Texas, on one of his favorite subjects, "The Silent Symbols of History." May his "kind" be multiplied at 'old Baylor!'

Justice Anderson, BA '50, MA '51

Robert Reid was a real gentlemen and an outstanding teacher of history. In fact, he impressed me so much with his dramatic presentations of the past that I decided to minor in history. I came close to a major in it. But the one thing that impressed me in a personal way was after I graduated. He told me, "John, call me Bob. Dr. Reid is so ... stilted." I had served five years in the U.S. Navy, and he had served in the U.S. Army, so we had a special bond that eliminates college protocol. May God bless one of the greatest men and teachers I have ever known.

John Bloskas, BA '53

As a freshman in the fall of 1949, I was assigned to Mr. Reid's history class which met in Pat Neff. He had me mesmerized from the first day. He waited until the bell rang, entered the room, held his books above his head, and dropped them on his desk, and that was only the beginning. From Lady Godiva to the Medici he recreated history. One day he dramatized the story of a king walking across mountains in the snow to beg forgiveness from the Pope, who sang, "Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow."

Betty (Baker) Parker, BA '53

Although I was a science major, I also loved history, and Professor Robert Reid made it come alive for me in his European History class. He was one of my favorite teachers at Baylor, and I am very sad to hear of his passing.

Nina Griffies Hendrix, BA '56

I cannot tell you how many times this fellow has entered my mind since I graduated in 1957. He was one of the most impressive professors that I can recall from my experience at Baylor. I received a BBA degree and took his course in history as part of the requirements. I will keep Robert Reid in my thoughts forever.

Jack H. Jouette, BBA '57

My wife and I were both in Mr. Reid's Greek history class when we got married in December 1961. To fit the wedding into our semester break schedule, we had the ceremony on a Tuesday evening at Travis Baptist Church, my first pastorate. Mr. Reid dismissed his Tuesday evening Greek history class and drove to that little one-room church south of Waco to attend--and he brought his mother with him. We were always amazed at his thoughtfulness then and through the years. What a great man!

Donald Bouldin, BA '60, MA '69

I was privileged to have Dr. Robert Reid for Texas History in the old Library building. I will never forget the dramatics he integrated into his teaching, making history "live". Once, while we were studying about the fights between the cowboys and the Indians, Dr. Reid portrayed in a very dramatic way how Indians would attack a cowboy, as he crouched behind his desk and suddenly jumped from behind that desk with a "war cry" acting how he would "scalp" a cowboy. Though I had some great teachers at Baylor, none were as dramatic as Dr. Reid. May God rest his soul. Amen!

Dr. Charles Kemble, BA '60

Bob Reid's classes were "deceptive." His lectures were so entertaining that you enjoyed going to class. Then came the "shock" of the first exam--you learned the "hard way" that Reid expected you to have mastered the subject matter very thoroughly. He was great at using the Socratic method, asking questions at the end of a lecture to make you think. I remember his asking at the end of a lecture about Constantine's making Christianity the "official" religion of the Roman Empire: Was Rome Christianized, or was Christianity Romanized? Professor Reid is a perfect example of what sets Baylor apart from other universities--great classroom teachers.

Allan Floyd, BA '62, MS '68

My favorite memory is of Dr. Reid's description of one of the early European dynasties (Merovingian maybe or possibly the Carolingian? My apologies to RR for not being sure.) as having intermarried to the point that the kings couldn't close their mouths completely because their tongues protruded. His depiction of how their portraits must have looked was unforgettable. I'm sure many Baylor grads have spent time searching through various museums of art looking for examples of this trait. I know I have. I was a 17-year-old freshman attending summer school in 1960 when I fell under his spell, and I decided to take a minor in history in order to justify taking all the other courses he taught. My husband Byrn, BA '62, and I got acquainted on a Reid-Lynn tour during which we heard many more hilarious reports of the lesser known facts of the lives of European royalty, I still smile every time I think of the drama and panache Bob Reid brought to every class. In 1986, I forced my son Eric, BA '91, who was starting his freshman year to sign up for the same class I had loved even though it started at 8 a.m. Some things are worth getting up early to attend!

Anita Williamson, BA '63

I took his English history classes in '64-'65 and have precious memories of this inspiring teacher. His wonderful sense of humor and theatricality was always in evidence. He loved the theater and came to the Baylor Theater often, and encouraged me to stay with acting (which I have done professionally for the past 43 years). His classes always filled up fast. One semester when they were all full by the time I got to sign up, I went to him and offered to bring my own chair. He laughed and protested mildly about space to move, but didn't stop me when I showed up to the first class with a chair. He found room, for which I'm grateful to this day. "The joy of learning" was what he taught the best of all. God rest him now.

Guy Boyd, BA '65

Dr. Reid was riveting!!! He was tough and demanding, but fascinating. I wanted his info and loved hearing every word. He walked you through the paths and roads of the world's treasures and conflicts; you felt you were there, helping history happen! All of his lectures should have been videotaped. If I had had the money and time, I would have taken his intro to world history course over; I might then have aced it. God blessed Baylor and me with his passion for where we have been so that we know who we are and where we are going. Thank God and Baylor for him!

Emily Crave Martinsen, BA '65

In 1962 I asked Mr. Reid what he considered the most important factor in his teaching. He said: "Know six times more than what you can say whenever you enter the classroom." I have tried to always make that a rule of my own teaching.

Jack Simons, BA '66

One of my favorite professors, I had the pleasure of taking his Honors History class in the fall of '65. One day he rushed into class shouting, "Rome is burning! Rome is burning!" and proceeded to give us a blow-by-blow account of the events of the conflagrating of Rome under Nero. Later, he acted out the murder of Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathederal--another 'You Were There' event. I had the pleasure of visiting Canterbury Cathedral Xmas Eve 2004 and saw the spot myself, remembering Mr. Reid's vivid account 39 years later. I missed "Who was William the Conquerer's mother?" on his final. Emma of Normandy.... I looked it up shortly after returning to the dorm. I certainly know it now - and have for the past 45 years! He was truly inspirational and reinforced my lifelong love of history. In fact, I later spent eight wonderful years as a middle school social studies/history teacher and found his 'acting out' teaching technique a proven attention-getter.

Vicki Gross, BBA '69

For about 10 years, I worked for Baylor as the director of student recruitment and visited schools representing Baylor at College Days/Fairs, etc. In the '70s this was a tough assignment because of the intense competition by the big state schools (guess who?). Mr. Reid suggested that we visit private academies in the East, it was approved, and he and some hand-chosen students boarded a plane to "share the green and gold afar." I had low expectations because of the lack of interest in Baylor I had experienced. Needless to say, Mr. Reid (and his boys) recruited three students the first year, followed by four the next, until 16 students were attending Baylor from these prestigious schools. The number wasn't great, but the quality of student was outstanding. Not only did Mr. Reid give to Baylor his love, interest and devotion, he actually brought new students to Baylor. I wonder how many students have become Baylor Bears because of his actions over the years.

Larry Smith, BS '69

I had him in Western Civilization between 1965 and 1970, and my daughter had him between 1996 and 2000. He was the best. He would walk on stage in the auditorium and begin speaking, without notes, and would literally bring history to life; with his bald head he would describe the long flowing locks of some barbarian. He will be truly missed.

Pat Lillard Jamison, BFA '70

Professor Reid offered a history class on Monday-Wednesday-Friday in the afternoon in the early '70s. Students were usually headed out of town on Friday afternoons (hey it was the weekend!) and didn't attend classes even though they had signed up for them. There was never a seat available in Reid's classroom three afternoons a week. You simply didn't want to miss. It was the best history entertainment learning ever created. He became the person in history he was speaking about, using part drama, part voice and always with a flourish of his arms while walking across the front of the classroom. I was a student who disliked history always, until Reid's class. Only took one, with regret later, but it changed the outlook of history for my lifetime. He so deserved to be a master teacher. I will never forget him, his love of life and history.

Nancy Powell Graham, BA '72

Robert Reid's Western Civ course taken my first semester of Baylor in 1969 hooked me on HISTORY. I had to major in something that such a great professor could bring alive--and take him for every course I could.

Marsh Gentry, BA '73

Mr. Reid always made history fun and interesting. I can remember the way he described the Germanic tribes as "oozing" across the Roman boarder, with his great emphasis on the word oozing along with the expressive motions of his hands. (He used his hands a lot). And how Henry VIII sent his court painter, Hans Holbein, to paint a picture of Anne of Cleves. Holbein found Anne to be so ill favored that, fearing to insult the king or Anne, he painted a miniature of her that gave away nothing. Henry, when he finally met her, promptly set her aside and gave her estates to live on and insisted that the marriage was never consummated. Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum Mr. Reid.

Don Truman, BBA '75

The news of Prof. Reid's death brought back wonderful memories. I had him for my very first class session ever at Baylor: 8 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 27, 1973. I learned so much from him, not just about history but about life, and never worked so hard and was so grateful for a C in my life. But, what impressed me more was that for the next four years he never forgot my name and always had a personal greeting when I saw him on campus. That's the mark of a true professor. My world is better because of Robert Reid.

Philip Poole, BA '77

I had Professor Reid my first semester at Baylor. During that semester I went home to see my parents. My dad, a Baylor grad, asked me about my classes and professors. I was going through the list when I mentioned my history class with Mr. Reid. Dad said "Bob Reid?" I said, "It's Robert Reid, I guess it could be Bob Reid." Dad found his old file drawer full of Baylor stuff and pulled out a manila envelope and brought it to me. There was a chart of the War of the Roses on one side (Mr. Reid LOVED to draw charts!), and a folded paper with about 20 questions typed on it folded up and paper clipped to the other side. I took it back to Waco and asked Mr. Reid if he remembered my dad. He said my last name, Cox, and then said "Bob Cox, from Rising Star, Texas. Played football his freshman year, sat in the second row, third seat. Yes, I remember him." I showed him the folder my dad had given me, and he asked if he could keep it for a while to see if "he had changed any over the years." I left the folder with him. About a week later, Mr. Reid called me to his desk and handed me the folder. I asked him if he had changed very much over the years. He winked at me and said, "I haven't changed one bit!" I thought that was rather odd, never having been winked at by a Baylor professor before. About a month later I sat in his classroom to take his final exam. He passed out a list of about 20 questions for us to answer in our blue books. I immediately recognized them as the same questions that had been paper clipped to my dad's old folder! I could have saved a lot of hours studying had I just listened to him when he winked at me! Mr. Reid was the one man that inspired me to become a history teacher myself. I will never forget the impact this man had on my life. I know that God has now handed him the "keys to the kingdom."

Herb Cox, BS '79, EDD '08

It was an honor and a privilege to know Robert Reid. He was a very special man who thought more of others than himself. I took three or four history courses from him, and he motivated me to take nine history classes total so I was only three hours short of a second degree in history. I came to Baylor from southern California, so my junior year (1978) I had no one to spend Thanksgiving with. Mr. Reid took me to Salado (Stagecoach Inn) for Thanksgiving lunch, and then over the next few days he and I visited Baylor at Independence and Galveston, staying in a very nice hotel and eating very well (things I didn't do much of as a college student). It was a Thanksgiving I will never forget. I got to know Mr. Reid very well, being in the Baylor Chamber of Commerce from '78 to '80, and helped him serve a real fancy meal in '79 or '80 to his relative (I think cousin) pianist Van Cliburn at Mr. Reid's condominium. A few of us gave up an evening just to help him out, but at the end of the evening I remember he gave each of us a $100 bill. Again, for a college student this was a big deal. One of the classes I took from him was Greek history. I remember he sought to teach us the Greek way, "know yourself, avoid excess!" I got a new car in 1980 and I wanted to get a personalized license plate. I was one of the Chamber bear mascot trainers so I asked him what the word bear was in Greek, and he said "ARKTOS." I got that license plate in Texas and have had it on my primary car for the past 30 years (now I have ARKTOS on New Mexico plates). I also got a puppy in 1980 and because of Mr. Reid named her after the Greek goddess "Pandora." She lived for another 10 years with the Greek name because of Mr. Reid. Mr. Reid was my favorite professor and he impacted my life. A part of him will continue to live on in me.

Rick Kraft, BA '80, JD '82

Dr. Reid came into class one day with a stack of papers and announced that before he passed out the pop quiz we could ask him any question regarding our material. Many in the class began to ask questions for clarification and insight, and many of us thought that if we continued to ask questions throughout the class period there would not be any time for a pop quiz. Sure enough, the class was spent reviewing our history material only to find out that Dr. Reid had only brought in a bunch of blank sheets of paper. It was genius, and the best review I ever sat through.

John Wheat, BA '84

I am so sorry to learn of the passing of Professor Robert Reid. In all of my higher education, including my master's, Dr. Reid is my most memorable and favorite teacher. He was fabulous in class and so wonderful to watch. He acted out the characters from Western Europe history, and our classes were never dull. You never wanted to miss his class. He was always kind, patient and very fair. He was truly a fabulous professor and dedicated to his students and the university. He will truly be missed.

Roxanna Godinez, BA '87

Taking Ancient Rome and then later Ancient Greece from Professor Reid are two of my favorite memories of my years at Baylor. Professor Reid was engaging, joyful, and supportive--everything you want in a professor and mentor.

Stan Perry, BA '87

Sorry to see you go Professor Reid. The Baylor family lost a big one today.

Bret Thurman, BA '90

I am saddened to hear of the passing of Professor Reid. He was a blessed man of wit and wisdom. There are few friends we will always remember beyond college; Robert L. Reid is on that very short list ... Chamber sponsor, history professor, humanitarian, and most of all, a friend.

Erik Johnson, BA '92

Professor Reid memories: jangling the keys to the kingdom, pointing to the map behind him and finding the right spot without looking back, his bullet points at the beginning of class, writing the initials for the College of Cardinals like the CC for Chamber of Commerce ... Overall, his passion for teaching. I only had two courses with him, but I was so glad to have him before he retired. He was a legend.

Jorge Estrada, BSED '94

One of the few greats in history that could calm a storm with nothing more than his voice.

Merrick Matthews, BBA '97

Before my time at Baylor, Professor Reid was an active sponsor of the Baylor Chamber of Commerce. While I was there he was still a very dear friend of the Chamber; he would always share much wisdom with us during pledging and would take the new members out to eat each semester. I was also fortunate to take a trip to Independence, Texas, with many members along with Reid where he would narrate old stories from when Baylor was established there. He was loved and will be missed by so many generations of men and women.

Marcus McDaniel, BBA '06

I was one of his students in 1967. I was a typical male "slacker" history student taking it because I had to, more interested in women than academic excellence. Of course, he was up there in front of the class every day totally involved in what he was teaching. I loved his impersonations of historical characters. I still recall his characterization of Attila the Hun even today. However, his enthusiasm notwithstanding, I was still underachieving. I came into the final for the fall semester totally unprepared. I had stayed up all night cramming at several all-night coffee shops (you "moderns" have it so lucky, you have Common Grounds and Starbucks, we had to make do with truck stops), hoping that I could somehow slide by. Mr. Reid loved the essay question back then, which I assume he continued throughout his teaching career. He asked us to expound on some societal-oriented thing between different political factions in the 17th century in England. My mind was a complete blank. When I say blank, think of a TV screen not turned on! I had last reviewed material in the 1700s in my all-nighter. As far as I was concerned the 1600s never occurred, had been lost out of all history books and was a forgotten century in the annals of man. So I decided that since the 1600s were lost that I would answer the question with that which I had some passing knowledge, that being the 1700s, hoping that he would see my "innocent" mistake of associating the 17 part of the century designator. (I know 1700s is the 18th century but desperation breeds many failed attempts.) I was brilliant! I filled the page up with words, beautiful words, incisive words, words that made no sense of course, even on their own, but especially when talking about the 17th century. I was basically casting my fate on the kindness of Mr. Reid, thinking that maybe he would pity my innocent mistake and give me a few points, a small kindness, a little mercy. I got the final back. Top of the page, an F. Next to the treatise on the wrong century, written in red of course, "Nice try, Mr. Lind, but no." I loved that man. I took the course over the next semester from him! A great one!

Walt Lind

Professor Reid was an example to all. He will be missed and remembered by countless Baylor Chambermen who walked through those halls and left stronger, more disciplined and went out into the world understanding the principles of faith, commitment, and service.

Luke Sheffield

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