‘Living Legend’ publisher Garth Reeves to celebrate 100th birthday

Warm congratulations to my dear friend and mentor Garth Reeves, publisher emeritus of The Miami Times Newspaper, who will celebrate his 100th birthday on Tuesday.

At 4 p.m. Sunday, Reeves will be recognized by the North Mami Committee to Honor Our Living Legends at a celebration at North Miami City Hall in the MOCA museum courtyard, 776 NE 125th St.

Bea L. Hines.JPG

Bea L. Hines

In an invitation, the committee made up of a group of “grateful citizens” said they are honoring Reeves because they thought it would be “befitting to honor those in our community who have helped us along the way.

“Your example impressed upon our minds, values that we treasure today. Your wisdom and knowledge have influenced our lives in an unforgettable way. For this reason we would like to honor your 100th birthday as one of Our Living Legends. … Thank you so very much for being our beacon of light over the years. We love you with the love of Christ in our hearts.”

It is a fitting tribute to a man who, indeed, has been a great example in the South Florida community in so many ways.

Reeves took over the day-to-day operation of The Miami Times after graduating from Florida A&M University in 1940 and then serving in World War II. “Back then,” he once said, “our biggest stories were about the number of lynchings going on around the country.” And while he and his staff were threatened by the bigots, they kept on informing the black community, soon becoming the largest black newspaper in the South.

Aside from running the paper and reporting on the evils of Jim Crow, Reeves was also active in the local and national Civil Rights Movement, and was a very present fighter alongside the late Rev. Theodore Gibson, who headed the NAACP and the rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Coconut Grove. The two men, along with the late Dr. John O. Brown and others, staged wade-ins at Miami’s public beaches and integrated all-white golf courses. Reeves was a fearless leader and businessman. This trait endeared him to the black community and garnered respect from the white community.

When his late son Garth, Jr. came of age, Reeves turned over the day-to-day operation of the paper to him and he became its publisher. When Reeves retired as publisher, his daughter Rachel took the reigns of the paper, and today his grandson Garth III, serves as the paper’s vice president of Business Development.

I first met Reeves (incidentally, we share the same birthday, only he is 19 years older) when I was 12. His then-wife Janey used to worship at times at New Hope Baptist Church, where I’d just become a baptized member. Reeves was Episcopalian, but on occasions he would accompany Janey and their children, baby Garth and little Rachel, to church. They were such a beautiful family; Reeves, tall and handsome and Janey petite and pretty and always stylishly and beautifully dressed.

In those days, Reeves and his family lived in what we called “the suburbs” of Liberty City, where black professionals had beautiful homes perched on well-kept lawns. The Reeves’ home was on Northwest 13th Avenue and about 69th Street. Often on Sunday afternoons after church I, along with some of my friends, would “go walking” (which was a favorite pastime for us in those days) past the Reeves home and the homes of the many other prominent black educators and business owners.

I, like many of the other adolescent girls I knew, had “celebrity crushes.” One of my crushes was Reeves. He was the man we all wished to grow up and marry.

Recently I spoke to Pam Edwards, who first told me about the celebration for Reeves’ birthday.

“I have known Mr. Reeves since I was 5,” she said. “My father used to work for him at the newspaper, and when I was a teenager, I used to babysit for Rachel and little Garth. Mr. Reeves was such a doting dad — he was so in love with his children. He is so deserving of this honor.” Edwards said the Church of the Incarnation, where she and Reeves, are members, will honor him during the 10 a.m. Sunday service.

I was able to speak briefly with Reeves on the phone before writing this column. I asked him how it felt to be 100. He said, “ I feel that God has been very good to me and I thank Him for it.”

He was just getting over a bad cold, but he said he was “much better and looking forward to the celebration.”

“So,” I asked, “What will you do the next 100 years of life?” He laughed and said, “I will be cool and try to live a good life.”

Priest to be celebrated

The life and work of Absalom Jones, the first African-American priest in the Episcopal Church, will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, at the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation, 1835 NW 54th St.

Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat, will be the guest speaker and the Right Rev. Peter Eaton will be the celebrant.

The program is sponsored by the Diocese of Southeast Florida and lunch will follow in the J. Kenneth Major Hall at the church. The cost of lunch is $30 per person. The program will include prizes and surprises. Call Kathy Wyche latimore at 305-633-0407 for more information.

‘Walk Together Children’

“Walk Together children” a walk through the historic Overtown, will be from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 16. The free walk will begin and end at the Historic Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church, 301 NW Ninth St. (Willie Waters Way).

There are several ways to get to the site: the free Miami Trolley (Allapattah Line), and tour buses Hop On-Hop Off. Free parking is available to drivers in lots on the corner of Northwest Third Avenue and 10th Street. A bonus gift bag of memorabilia will be given to persons who reserve a spot in advance by Monday. The walk, which highlights several sites in the historic black neighborhood, is sponsored by GLW and Partners.

Following the walk, a ”A Taste of Soul Food” luncheon will follow at 12:30 p.m. in the church’s Evans-Graham Auditorium of the church. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door, and may also be purchased from any member of the church’s Women’s Ministry. Call Gail Willingham at 305-633-3583 for more information.

Speaker series

In keeping with Black History Month, the “A Different World” College Experience Speaker series will be from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, 6161 NW 22nd Ave. in Liberty City.

The center has partnered with the D.E.B.S. Foundation for the presentation. According to a press release, the goal of the program is to expose minority youth to the world of colleges and universities in order to promote increase college attendance among them. All high school students and parents are welcome to the free program.

For more information about the series, contact the D.E.B.S. Foundation at debsfoundation@outlook.com.

Church bell ringers

The bells will be ringing today at Trinity Cathedral, when the church hosts a group of expert church bell ringers from the National Cathedral in Washington, and Trinity Church Wall Street in New York, will ring the bells.

According to information from Trinity, change ringing on church bells originated in England in the 17th century and is today practiced in 44 towers across the United States. The eight bells at Trinity were cast in 1983.

The visiting ringers and local Miami ringers will attempt to complete a special three-hour performance called a “peal,” starting at 1 p.m. Sunday. A peal comprises of no less than 5,000 unique ringing sequences called “changes” and is considered a great physical and mental feat to complete.

The sounds of the bells can be heard and enjoyed from the grounds of the cathedral and everyone is welcome to enjoy the sounds.

Catskills documentary

Temple Emanu-El at 1701 Washington Ave. in Miami Beach, will present “The Glory Days of the Catskills” with a 1986 documentary, “Rise and Fall of the Borscht Belt” at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the synagogue.

The program will also include a short film, “Catskill Resort Museum,” and a presentation by Elaine Grossinger Etess of Grossinger’s Resort.

Admission is $9 per person and includes refreshments. Call 305-538-2503 ext. 221, for more information and to RSVP.

‘Restorative Yoga’

Yoga instructor Paula Londono teaches a class in “Restorative Yoga” 10 a.m. Wednesdays at the North Miami Public Library, 835 NE 132nd St.

According to a press release, the yoga experience is designed to restore the nervous system and help release deeply held tensions from the mind and body. Props are used to support the postures, while gently stretching and strengthening the body. The combination of gentle and light movement yoga and deep restorative work improves joint mobility and range of motion, while also reducing pain and the effects of stress.

Admission is free and no prior yoga experience is required for the all-levels class. Props and mats will be provided by the library as needed.