James Arthur Reeder,age 78, passed from this life on Sunday, the 1st of April 2012, after a valiant battle with cancer. His life was a testament to his motto that ""Happiness is now.""
Born on the 29th June 1933, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to James Brown Reeder and Grace Britt Reeder, the family moved to Shreveport, Louisiana in 1939. He graduated from Byrd High School in 1951. Jim attended Washington & Lee University where he was a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity, graduating with honors in 1955. After serving as a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, he attended S.M.U. Law School, where he met his soul mate, life partner and joyous co-adventurer, Leone Guthrie. They married in 1958 and began a devoted and enviable partnership which never wavered to the end of both of their days. Jim continued his legal education at the Univ. of Texas School of Law (L.L.B. 1960) and, L.S.U. Law School (J.D. 1961). From 1961-1972, he practiced law at Booth, Lockard, Jack, Pleasant and LeSage in Shreveport, ultimately becoming the firm's managing partner.
Reeder converted to Catholicism in 1967 and entered his service to the Catholic Church with fervor and passion, serving on the Diocesan Council for Shreveport, as well as the board of St. Joseph's Catholic School. For the rest of his life, he served as a lay minister and lector in Catholic communities in Shreveport, Houston, and Washington.
Dedicated to community service, Jim was recently recognized for the countless hours he spent in the 1960s organizing voter registrations throughout Caddo Parish to encourage and empower minority voters. He served as president of the Young Lawyers Section of the Louisiana Bar and on the board of the Young Lawyers Section of the ABA. He was named Outstanding Young Lawyer both for Shreveport and Louisiana as well as Louisiana Outstanding Young Man. He also served as President of Holiday in Dixie and Chairman of the Ambassadors Club.
In 1972, Jim formed a multi-racial partnership to purchase radio station KOKA, nurturing some of the finest radio talents in Shreveport. He later added radio stations KCOZ in Shreveport and KKLR in Oklahoma City. In 1985, Leone and Jim moved to Houston, Texas where Jim created Radio USA, expanding his radio interests into markets such as Abilene, Birmingham, Bryan-College Station, Longview, and Omaha. He served on the board of Boys Country and was a member of Houston Country Club.
In the early 1960s through the 1980s, Jim crisscrossed the state of Louisiana in support of a number of political campaigns. He served as Director of Special Projects for lifelong friend Sen. J. Bennett Johnston, and advised and served countless political leaders in Louisiana, nationally and internationally. In 1991, he and Leone started a new chapter of their lives as they moved to Washington, D.C. where Jim returned to the practice of law as a partner at Patton Boggs, where he remained until his death. He loved Patton Boggs. Known on Capitol Hill as a brilliant story teller and an endless fount of jokes and anecdotes, he was nonetheless a keen strategist and skilled negotiator. In 2007, he was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame.
In the midst of his career, Reeder was always on hand to write speeches, shows and jokes, emcee and host events ranging from his children's grade school musical performances to beauty pageants and television shows, including as co-host of ""The Charlie Mac Show"" with legendary LSU coach Charlie McClendon. Reeder's warm and powerful bass voice filled stadiums as the original voice of the Shreveport Steamer football team and the Independence Bowl. For over 35 years, he served as the emcee of the Washington Mardi Gras Ball. One of his proudest achievements was serving as the narrator of President Barack Obama's Inauguration Parade.
Throughout his life, Jim's gifts for making others feel good about themselves, for making each moment of his life count, for sharing joy and laughter, and shouldering burdens, have left a lasting legacy. Jim and Leone shared a passion for France, and in the last decade, Jim, who his grandchildren called ""Bodaddy,"" honed his talent as a landscape artist, capturing on canvas the beauty of the French countryside he and Leone loved.
Through it all, Leone, the love of Jim's life, accompanied and supported him on each adventure with the memorable smile that was his constant affirmation until she preceded him in death in December 2010. Each of Jim's children, imbued with a unique combination of his diverse talents, is a living testament to his indomitable spirit and a product of his ever-present support.
Jim leaves behind his children; Mary Virginia Reeder of Dallas, James Arthur Reeder, Jr. of Houston, and Elizabeth Reeder Neubauer of Austin; his sons-in-law, Eric Nevil and Rick Neubauer; his grandchildren, Margaret Grace Vroom, James Guthrie Vroom, Grace Kathryn Nevil, Jackson Charles Nevil; his sister, Sally Reeder Schneider of Houston; and cousins, extended family, adopted family, and loved ones too numerous to count.
Friends are cordially invited to a visitation with the family from five o'clock in the afternoon until eight o'clock in the evening on Tuesday, the 10th of April, at Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive in Houston.
In Louisiana, the family is to again receive friends during a visitation from half-past five o'clock in the afternoon until eight o'clock in the evening on Wednesday, the 11th of April, at Rose-Neath Funeral Home, 1815 Marshall Street in Shreveport.
A funeral service is to be conducted at eleven o'clock in the morning on Thursday, the 12th of April, at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 204 Patton Avenue in Shreveport.
The interment is to follow, via an escorted cortege, at Forest Park St. Vincent Cemetery in Shreveport.
At a later date, a memorial service, celebrating Mr. Reeder's life, is to be conducted in Washington, D.C.
In lieu of customary remembrances, and for those desiring, the family requests with gratitude that memorial contributions in Mr. Reeder's name be directed to Houston Hospice, 1905 Holcombe Blvd., Houston, TX 77030.
""While we mourn the loss of the unquenchable spirit of Jim among us, Heaven is a better place as a truly inspirational couple is reunited to forever show us all how to live, love and laugh.""
Published by Houston Chronicle from Apr. 3 to Apr. 9, 2012.