J. Walter Reeder, 40, loom fixer, died attempting to save Betty Sue Tucker, 19, from drowning, Worthville, North Carolina, July 6, 1956. While she and a 16-year-old youth were swimming in a pond, Miss Tucker got into difficulty in water eight feet deep 75 feet from the nearest bank. The youth, a good swimmer, started to tow her toward wadable water, but Miss Tucker wrapped her arms and legs about him. After both had been submerged twice, the boy broke free and swam to wadable water to regain his breath. Reeder was in wadable water teaching his daughter to swim and was attracted. After telling his daughter to stay in shallow water, Reeder waded and swam more than 200 feet toward Miss Tucker, who was bobbing at the surface. As he neared her, Reeder suddenly disappeared beneath the surface. Miss Tucker also sank at the same time, and neither returned to the surface. Help was summoned, and Reeder and Miss Tucker were found inert on the bottom. They could not be revived. 44076-4134
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A large number attended the funeral service for Walter Reeder, who gave his life in a futile attempt to save a young Asheboro, N.C., girl from drowning on July 6, 1956. The little Central Falls Methodist church, where he was the charge lay leader, and where he had served in almost every capacity of the church, was filled to capacity for the funeral service, and a large number of people gathered on the outside to hear the service over a loud speaker.
Many wept sadly as they filed by the bier of this man, who was their friend and leader in the activities of the community. Reeder, who would have been 40 years of age in one month from the time of his death, had accompanied his 15 year old son, Harold, and his 10 year old daughter, Anita, to the W.O.W. Fresh Air Camp a short time prior to the tragic happening. The girl for whom he gave life trying to save was a total stranger to him, he having never seen her until the fatal accident.
This, in itself, is illustrative of the life Walter Reeder lived, and the manner in which he died and is perhaps evidenced more forcibly by a statement which he made at the church on the Sunday before his passing. Upon answering the question as to how far a Christian should go on behalf of his fellowman, Reeder replied “all the way.”
That statement bespeaks the life of Walter Reeder. In life, he went all the way for his family, his church, his school, and his community, and in death he also went all the way, laying down his life for a fellow human being.
For Reeder’s funeral service, his pastor was joined by a former pastor and a Baptist minister who lived nearby. His pastor told of the last conversation he had with Reeder before he died. He was urging Reeder to become a local Methodist minister and Reeder said he felt insufficient. The pastor concluded the service with these remarks, “If Walter Reeder was insufficient, so am I.”
(Edited from an obituary in The Courier Tribune, July 16, 1956.)