The banquet hall at Sea Pines Country Club was filled almost to overflowing with Rotarians and guests at lunchtime May 19, all gathered to celebrate one of their own. Though it was a scheduled luncheon meeting of the Rotary Club of Hilton Head Island, it featured a 100th birthday party for member Norm Reeves, who was born May 28, 1916.
More amazing than his reaching the century mark, though, is his service to others over his lifetime. There is also the fact that in 71 years as a Rotarian, he has a record of 100 percent attendance at meetings since joining in 1945. (He pointed out that it was not “perfect” attendance, as he had missed and been excused from three meetings because of medical procedures.)
Reeves is not the kind to just show up regularly for meetings, though. Part of the commitment to Rotary membership is service to one’s community, and Reeves takes this very seriously. He has attended 19 Rotary International conventions and currently serves on the attendance committee for the Hilton Head club.
Reeves is a regular bell-ringer for the Salvation Army during the holidays. He also is part of a band that entertains weekly at the Preston Health Center at the Cypress, and at Memory Matters, the local program for those with dementia.
Perhaps more importantly to Reeves is his service to his church. In Pennsylvania, he taught Sunday school for 17 years and was a trustee for the Presbyterian church there. After moving to the island in 1992, he joined First Presbyterian Church on Hilton Head, where he served on the Council of Men of the Church for 16 years.
There was also his military service. Reeves was called to duty at age 24, shortly after he married his sweetheart, Maude, and left home to serve at Hunter Field in Savannah. He later served as the base engineer at the Greenville Air Base, where he was responsible for 200 personnel as well as operating and maintaining structures, roads and runways.
Of course, there is his family, which has always been of greatest importance. He and Maude had five children and spent 61 years together before her passing. These days, he enjoys his seven grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
Even before he married, though, family was an integral part of his life and work. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, Reeves went to work in his father’s construction business, E. Allen Reeves Inc. Today, his son Rob is the third generation of Reeves men to run the company.
Though Reeves is serious about some things, he has a sharp sense of humor. In their comments at the birthday luncheon, one friend after another told a corny joke – his specialty. He is careful not to repeat a joke to the same group week after week, though he did repeat the same joke to two reporters present: “What did the tie say to the hat? You go on ahead and I’ll just hang around.”
After listening to nearly an hour of accolades from friends and family, Reeves took the microphone and said, “I wonder who you’ve been talking about all this time.”
He took the opportunity to get serious again, however, when he reminded club members to take their commitment to Rotary seriously. “It’s not a luncheon club,” he said sternly. “It’s a service club. So, if you’re not willing to serve, get out.”