What can we say about our teammate Robert Reeves? He is calm in a storm. He is a solid, stable force in our newsroom. He is a loyal friend. Robert has been a vital member of WHNT News 19 since 1980 and knows the Tennessee Valley like the back of his hand. He can tell you about the best barbecue joint in any town, and tell you exactly how to get there.
Robert gives great advice. He always has a hug to cheer you up, and a joke (or three) to make you chuckle. He also has a signature whistle!
Robert is a true gentleman and it is bittersweet as we announce his retirement.
We want to share this message from Robert, to you, the people of the Tennessee Valley.
Two simple, yet powerful words meant to express gratitude for a service, deed or kindness afforded to one person by another.
Something so easy to say, but nowhere near enough to express the feelings I am trying to convey as I write this note. There comes a time in all our lives when we reach a crossroad and have to make a life-changing decision. It is inevitable. I am at that crossroad and after much consternation, consideration and plain ol’ gnashing of teeth, have come to the realization it’s time for me to step aside and make room for others. I am announcing my retirement from WHNT News 19. My final newscast is Friday, November 18 at 9 p.m. on WHNT2. I hope you will join me as I say goodnight and goodbye for the last time.
As many of you know, my dad, Grady, worked for WHNT. He was actually the first employee, starting in May of 1963. WHNT signed on the air on Thanksgiving Day of 1963 and you allowed him to come into your home every day until the day he retired, May 31, 1991. During that time you also welcomed me into your homes, for which I am eternally grateful. My first show with Dad was in August of 1980. It’s hard to believe that was 36 years ago because they have gone by so fast, especially the last 10 years. As I have written in the past, it has been an honor to follow the legacy he left and I love it when folks from across the Tennessee Valley share stories about Dad with me. Maybe one of these days I will get around to writing a book and share not only those stories, but some of my own as well.
The Tennessee Valley is a very special place to live. I should know, I have been here since 1950 and honestly have visited practically every town, community or four-way stop sign with a general store in the area. I love to get out and just drive the back roads to see the countryside and visit with the people, something I must admit, I learned from my dad. There are so many wonderful things to see and do, if you just take the time to go find them. Over the years, it has been my pleasure to take you to a lot of them through the eye of our camera and to introduce the unique, down-to-earth, real people of the Valley. What a privilege this has been for me and what a great opportunity it brought to meet people from all walks of life. I can’t think of any other job I would have rather done. Back when Dad was doing radio in the 1950s in Huntsville, I would go to the station with him and actually got to meet the real “Lone Ranger” Clayton Moore. He was a guest on Dad’s radio show. I also got to meet Duncan Renaldo, “The Cisco Kid.” Talk about a 6 year old being in hog heaven! Since then I have had the opportunity to meet, interview, perform with or just sit and talk with various influential leaders in our government, high-ranking military officials, Medal of Honor recipients, astronauts, best-selling authors, poets, artists, chefs, major movie or television celebrities, country and rock music stars, sports stars and best of all, down-home folks like you and me. Like I said, what a great job I’ve had.
There is another part of the Tennessee Valley I am so very proud of — the real, true caring and generosity continuously shown by everyone. It was never more evident than during the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon each year. I was honored to co-host it for over 30 years and have the privilege of working with Dad and also my great friend, Jerry Hayes. Of course there were others, like my buddy Amy George and Elise Morgan, just to name a couple. The real privilege though, was working with the kids and adults who had muscular dystrophy, their parents and all the volunteers. We could not have done a telethon without them and their courage is what gave Jerry and me the strength and the will to do the telethon each year despite knowing we were going to lose some of those kids every year.
As I have said, this job has been great, but there have also been bad times as well. Since 1980, I have covered every disaster, natural or man-made, affecting the Valley. The one thing standing out above all else is the resiliency shown by you, the people of the Tennessee Valley. I continue to be amazed at how quickly you rise to each occasion and work together to help any and all who need it.
I have struggled to find a way to express my feelings about walking away at this time in my life and perhaps these lines from the Bob Seger song, “Night Moves,” say it best.
“Ain’t it funny how the night moves
When you just don’t seem to have as much to lose
Strange how the night moves
With autumn closing in.”
Which, of course, means as we reach the autumn of our lives we don’t have as much to look forward to, but I disagree. I have so much to look forward to in retirement thanks to my wife, Jacque. She has given me life and I want to share as much as I can with her while I am still in good health and able to enjoy everything with her. You see, she is another wonderful example of what my job has meant to me. I met Jacque in November of 2000 when she was a guest on the Mornin’ Folks segment of the morning news. She came back a year later and then again, each time as a guest. We became best friends over a seven-year period and March 26, 2007 she became my wife. That day turned my life around. She helped me see all the good things life has to offer and how much fun you can have when you share those things with your best friend and love of your life. The last 10 years have flown by and I want as much time with her as possible, so that is why I am retiring now.
It is my hope, if you see me on the street, at Walmart, a local restaurant or anywhere else, you will come over and shake my hand, share a story or at least wave and speak. After all, it’s not like we’re strangers, we’ve known each other for a long, long time and I can’t thank you enough for allowing me to be your friend.
We invite you to share your memories on Facebook about watching Robert through the years. We know you’ll miss him, just as we will.