Marie Reeves was not famous, she was not rich and she really wasn't all that well known.
She was born and raised in Logan County and she held a job that not many people would be interested in. But as the Family Education Coordinator for Logan County Adult Education, Reeves touched many lives and her death this week at the hands of a drunk driver has left a hole in the community that will be impossible to fill.
Countless lives have been changed because of Reeves’ passion for adult education and for reaching out to those others tend to dismiss, most notably people in prison. Melanie Abney Baskerville, who now works with Adult Education, is one who credits Reeves with basically saving her life.
“She made a difference in my life that words cannot even express,” said Baskerville, who was an inmate at the Logan County Detention Center when she met Reeves.
Reeves began working with Adult Education as a volunteer in 1996, according to Adult Ed Coordinator Cheryl Kelley. She volunteered with the Family Literacy Program for a while before becoming Family Literacy Coordinator. In that position, her creativity and desire to help others led to the creation of new programs designed to help those who needed help the most.
“Marie was one of those who thinks outside the box,” Kelley said. “She always came up with fresh ideas.”
One of her ideas came about when she knew a young man in prison and she wanted to help him. She asked Jailer Bill Jenkins for permission to come in and tutor the young man and Jenkins agreed.
Jenkins said Reeves’ death was tragic and the inmates and himself would miss her very much.
From that, Reeves decided to get Family Literacy involved at the jail. Reeves realized that those in adult education could no longer just wait for people to come in and ask for help, they had to go to the places where people needed help, Kelley said. In working at the prison, Reeves also set up a program that let children of inmates have time with their parents through the Family Literacy Program in the prison. This is only one of five programs in the state that allows children on site.
“Our Family Literacy Program is recognized throughout the state,” Kelley said. Reeves was recently honored by the National Association of Children of Incarcerated Parents and asked to present at a conference.
"It takes a special person to go into a prison," Kelley said.
Baskerville said Reeves treated all those in the jail like humans and "made you feel worthy when you didn't."
"Marie was vital in me turning my life around," Baskerville said. "She saw something in me, that I did not. And she loved me enough until I could learn to love myself. All she saw was the possibility of change and improvement."
When Baskerville got out of jail, Reeves took her under her wing and helped her get a job at Adult Education. Without Reeves' help even after getting out of jail, Baskerville said she'd either be "in prison or dead."
John Scruggs met Reeves through the Adult Learning Center and credits her with helping him get a good job and continuing his education.
“She wouldn’t let me stop learning once I got started,” said Scruggs who now works at Logan Aluminum and is a student at Bowling Green Technical School.
“She just kept encouraging me,” Scruggs said. “She was an amazing woman.”
“I’m going to keep on going to school and do it in her memory,” he added.
As Family Literacy Program coordinator, Reeves worked in many places, including with the Family Resource and Youth Services Centers, the schools and other places where she thought she might could reach and help people. And she did much work beyond her basic job description and on her own time.
"She had a real love for and passion for what she was doing," Baskerville said.
"She knew the importance of education and family involvement," Kelley added.
"She made such a difference in my life and anyone's she touched that everyone needs to know how much she matter and how much she will be missed," Baskerville said. "She believed in the good in everyone out here and their possibility for change. Not many folks have that wonderful gift. God bless her for that gift."
Reeves, of Lewisburg, died Saturday, June 19 after being hit by a drunk driver while riding her motorcycle in Bowling Green.
Kelley said they will continue the many programs Reeves started and will be looking for someone to fill her position with Adult Ed. Anyone interested should contact the Logan County Board of Education. Kelley also said they will be creating a scholarship in her memory and anyone interested in donating should call the Adult Education office.
For a complete obituary, see Page A-5.