Letter to the Editor: Remembering Lea Reames

by Dianne Gurley

Dear Editor, This last week Blackwell lost a trail blazer and one of the most amazing women I have known. Lea Reames died at 93. I met Lea when I first volunteered at the Top of Oklahoma Historical Society Museum.

She was president of the Board of Directors. I loved her calm kindness, her sense of history and her strong leadership. I was lucky to get to know more about her as we worked on museum projects.

We talked about her past jobs with the Blackwell Chamber of Commerce. I wanted to know how a woman survived the times from 1959 until 1994. She told me about the difficulties of often being the only woman in a leadership position. She wasn’t angry or disgruntled.

Working around the men who didn’t start out valuing her was what she did. She figured out how to get the job done for the community.

Whether it was community bean feeds, car shows, campouts or the Kay County Fair, she knew who to ask for help because she learned who would help. Her work at the Museum took place when she was in her eighties.

She recruited board members, organized activities and rolled up her sleeves to do whatever job was needed to promote the Museum as Blackwell’s major tourist attraction. One of my most vivid memories of Lea was at the annual bean feed after she had left the Board.

“You can always count on me to help,” she said. There she was, almost 90, wrestling a giant pot into the sink so she could wash it.

That devotion to her community is inspiring. The community owes her an enormous debt of gratitude for those years of service in such a variety of ways.

Thank you, Lea Reames.

Dianne Gurley Braden Blackwell, OK