It was about twenty years ago at the Nashville Fair Grounds, during the Mike Kent Civil War Show, that I first met my dapper ole friend Reece Sexton. By Divine Providence I was assigned a table right next to the Civil War Courier booth, which happened to be one of my favorite magazines. Reece walked up and introduced himself, and from that point, we became fast friends. We had much in common when it came to the love of history and heritage preservation. So that evening, at the close of the event, he invited me to go out to eat with he and his staff members.
Being familiar with my battle announcing and master of ceremonies work, he asked me to be a part of some of the reenactment events the Courier was promoting. That eventually led to the Battle of Franklin reenactment of 2004, where he hired me to be the MC and to also produce a promotional video. During the filming of the video, Reece dressed up in his 1860’s civilian attire and did a scene for me. Looking spectacular in his new frock and hat, I commented, “My, don’t we look dapper today.” He chuckled at my remark and from that day forward, that was our greeting to one another. Anytime we spoke on the phone, the words “My Dapper Ole Friend” were always part of the salutation.
Reece is also responsible for giving me the first opportunity to be published nationally. He insistently encouraged me to write a series on Captain Tod Carter and the Battle of Franklin. Upon the completion of that series, he asked for another and then another. When I wrote my first novel, he sounded like a proud papa when he congratulated me on its completion. I could always count on Reece to be my voice of encouragement. He was not only my mentor; he was my friend.
Our last phone conversation was just three weeks ago before he got sick, and as always, we used the same greeting to one another. And, as always, he was filling the role as my mentor and chief encourager. Today my heart is sad. At the table there will be an empty chair and my dapper ole friend won’t be there. Reece Sexton has crossed the over the river and is now resting under the shade of the trees.