Yesterday, in the Vicksburg Evening Post, the paper's editor, Charlie Mitchell- who is a longtime family friend- wrote this wonderful tribute:

Remember David Reid, who never lost the melody

We met in elementary school.

After those days our encounters were rare and brief. They came at predictable intervals as we aged, in grocery store aisles, at back-to-school nights for our own children, reunions.

Exchanges with David Reid always went past, "Hi, how are you? Fine and you? Fine." He always had something wry, something personal, something sincere to say.

David made an impression, a good impression. He was consistently upbeat.

It was good that the Post had David on the front page a few weeks ago, "outing" him to the world for what was probably the most outlandish deed of his life. David was one of four Hinds Community College commuters from Vicksburg who in 1973 carved, in giant letters, "Remember Duane Allman" into an earthen wall along the then-new Interstate 20 near Bovina. Prompting the
news story was a performance in Vicksburg by Gregg Allman, brother of the legendary guitarist who had been killed in a 1971 motorcycle wreck.

The carved memorial lasted for years, becoming an icon to I-20 travelers. Gregg told David and his co-conspirators the family had seen photos and appreciated the gesture. That meant a lot.

Anybody who knows anything about music--and David knew a lot about music--will tell you that Duane Allman, though a rocker's rocker, always kept the melody, never lost it to the noise.

And so it was with David.

He was keenly intelligent, with an excellent memory, but he didn't care whether anyone knew it or not. Impressing others wasn't something he desired to do. David was as casual as the Hawaiian shirts and wide-brimmed hats that were his stock-in-trade.

He and his classmate, Tricia, equally smart and warm in her friendships, formed a marital partnership in which they derived pleasure from being considerate of one another. Money didn't matter. Having a posh house didn't matter. Having the newest car didn't matter. What other people thought, did, cared about or worried about didn't matter. People mattered. Relationships

Together, David and Tricia infused their ideals into their children, Erica and Christopher, talented and creative children who have become talented and creative adults. The Reids equipped their daughter and son with roots and wings the way great parents do--a grounding in values plus decency plus a yearning to explore, learn, serve.

Word that David had cancer came years ago. Tricia, an Internet blogger before that term was even invented, wrote about it the same as she had everything else. Both were realistic, prayerful, confident, scared, accepting the challenge. What choice did they have?

They won a hell of a lot of battles, but, as the cliche goes, not the war.

Just a few weeks ago, a backache sent David to the doctor. It wasn't a pulled muscle. It was another malignancy. The verdict: David would die in a matter of weeks.

They say hospice nurses are compassionate, which would be expected. But they're also pretty seasoned. After David's nurse had her first private meeting with him, telling him how things would go, I'm told she left the room in tears.

The end came last Sunday night just as forecast, family and friends all there. A free spirit became free.

Encounters with people like David Reid are brief and rare. When they happen, listen for the melody. They've learned to sustain it through the noise.

-- Charlie Mitchell is executive editor of The Vicksburg Post. Write to him
at Box 821668, Vicksburg, MS 39182, or e-mail post@vicksburg.com.