7/7/1949 – 9/20/2023
A Eulogy by Tim
Surrounded by close friends and family in Weatherford, TX, on the afternoon of September 20, Dan transitioned into the next realm to commune with his loved ones and friends who passed before him.
Dan embodied the true definition of fun and lived to experience and promote joy. He was a wonderful husband, father, son, nephew, uncle, cousin, neighbor, and friend to all who knew him. One of his best gifts to me was his example of being genuinely interested in learning about people and their experiences. He prioritized people above almost everything and made it a point to attend as many reunions as possible…family, high school, and a yearly gathering with several of his dear KU fraternity brothers that they affectionately named “Conclave”. Dan was always excited about my friendships and developed his own unique connections with several of my buds, most notably with my best friend and brother, Aaron Phlipot. He was a true master of interpersonal relationships.
Dan was born in Lamar, CO, to Betty June Hughs and Kenneth Leon Reeder on July 7, 1949. He was raised in Springfield, CO, by a village that included not only his parents, but aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins. He was an ambitious youngster and student. As a senior at Springfield High School, he carried a 3.63 cumulative GPA, a mark that he was always proud of, and that I didn’t come close to achieving. Dan was an All-State offensive lineman for the Springfield Longhorns. Alongside lifelong best friend and QB, Raymond Hale, and a slew of other studs, his team finished as runner-up for the 1966 3A State Championship. He credited head coach Aaron Hale, who was also Raymond’s father, as being his #1 mentor throughout his life. Dan was also a track star. His teams won State his sophomore year and runner-up his senior year. He played on the drum line in band and pep band and was president of his class during his sophomore and junior years.
While he was still in high school, Dan’s love of music and the arts brought him to a summer music camp at the University of Kansas, where he fell in love with the culture and atmosphere of Lawrence. He enrolled in the William Allen White School of Journalism in 1967 and pledged the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, where he developed countless lifelong friends and was named Best Director for the Rock Chalk Revue, an annual show in which Greek organizations write, produce, and perform original musical productions. Under the tutelage of Dr. John Bremner, a nationally esteemed journalism professor, Dan developed an incredible ability to write, report, and edit that was a hallmark of his career. He graduated with a B.A. in Journalism in 1972 and immediately enrolled in graduate school, where he earned a M.A. in Journalism in 1974.
Dan married my beloved mother, Janet Pringle, on August 11, 1973, in Tribune, KS. A few days later, the newlyweds embarked on a journey to Morrisville, NY, where as a journalism professor at SUNY Morrisville, Dan quickly developed a reputation for being “firm but fair”. He pushed his students to be skeptical and to value precise, clear language. Though he was only there for three years, he was well-respected for the positive impact he made at Morrisville. Many of his peers and students kept in touch through the years, and Dan relished meeting with them every chance he got.
In the summer of 1976, my parents moved back to Lawrence for Dan’s new position as editor of the University of Kansas Alumni Association magazine. He won numerous awards for excellence in writing, editing, photography, design, and fundraising from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). In 1980, he learned that Gary Booth, an inmate, had just become the first KU student to graduate while incarcerated at Leavenworth Penitentiary. Dan wrote and published an excellent story about Gary’s life, much to the chagrin of several of his superiors at the KU Alumni Magazine. The politics of writing about a convict who graduated from KU drove some people nuts, and Dan told me several years ago that he thought at the time he might be fired after the story ran. In later years, Dan recorded about 50 hours of conversations he had with Gary that formed the basis of a screenplay about Gary’s life and his colorful stint as an outlaw. The play was wonderful, but unfortunately, Dan never did much to promote it. He admitted to me later that he had an inescapable drive to write the piece regardless of whether it was ever published. Gary and Dan remained lifelong friends, such different people who endlessly fascinated one another.
In 1985, Dan left the Alumni Association to start Reeder & Co., a long-operating advertising, design, and consulting firm. Starting as a one-man show in the downstairs of our house, Dan eventually employed a staff of designers, writers, and editors in a well-designed space across the street from Free State Brewery in downtown Lawrence. Dan’s team worked with numerous colleges and universities to help market fundraising efforts for various endowment projects. His firm was active in CASE, where it earned several awards for excellence. Reeder & Co. also designed several logos that are still seen around Lawrence today. Dan retired and closed the company in 2012.
Dan was a RABID fan of everything KU. He held football and basketball season tickets for at least 28 years. I remember many years when he prepared himself to be pissed off on football Saturdays, although he always held out hope that the Jayhawks had a chance. I remember several years of consistent losses to Nebraska and Colorado and most of the rest of the Big XII teams. When Coach Mangino, Reesing, and Meyer led the ‘Hawks to the Orange Bowl and a #7 final ranking in 2008, Dan was over the moon. Despite being a lifelong football fan, for obvious reasons, Dan loved KU basketball even more. When Coach Roy Williams departed for North Carolina in 2003, we lamented together that since Dean Smith never returned home to Kansas, it was blasphemy for Williams to leave KU to go back to his alma mater. Perhaps my favorite sports memory with Dan was watching the Final Four tournament in 2008. We were in Austin watching the games happening in San Antonio. In the first game against North Carolina, KU jumped out to a 42-12 lead, and we both thought we were on a different planet. By the time we beat Memphis in the final game after Mario’s Miracle, neither one of us could talk due to all the screaming. Dan adored Coach Bill Self. I treasure so many memories of watching sports with Dan. He wasn’t always interested in pro teams, but Coach Andy Reid and QB Patrick Mahomes quickly turned him into a Chiefs diehard fan. Eventually, Dan even watched the Cowboys, my wife Jamie’s favorite team.
In the early eighties, Dan was fortunate to travel the world with a KU Alumni Association program called the Flying Jayhawks. He and Janet hosted tours to Norway, Sweden, Finland, Ireland, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Greece, Turkey, Denmark, Malta, and Egypt. During an especially mesmerizing trip to Egypt, they cruised the Nile River, rode camels, and explored the pyramids, the Sphinx, and King Tut’s tomb.
Dan and Janet had such an incredible connection. They yammered at each other plenty, but they were a perfect match…souls that needed one another. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary just over a month ago. My wife, Jamie, and I were so pleased to be able to celebrate with them in Dallas.
Daddio, as my wife lovingly called him, was my hero from early on. I always admired his worldview. He taught me the importance of skepticism. He spread joy everywhere he went. He always sent Christmas cards. He LOVED scotch, especially Dewars, and I cherished every opportunity we had to enjoy it together. On countless occasions, I saw Dan moved to tears by the English language. He wore his heart on his sleeve, and it didn’t take much to figure out what he was thinking. Dad never gave up on me. He built me up and provided boundless support as I struggled mightily to find my place in life. He met my pal, Aaron, and me in Las Vegas for our 21st birthdays and paid for everything. He always paid for everything. Dad was a lifelong smoker. He was felled very quickly by lung cancer at the age of 74. Although we didn’t have time to have all the important talks, I’m grateful he knew I will love him eternally, and that was enough. At the end, I sat by his side for three days playing his favorite songs, talking to him, and bawling. I know he could hear me.
Dan was predeceased by his parents and his sister, Nancy (David) Epstein. He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Janet, Weatherford, TX; son, Tim (Jamie) Reeder, Richardson, TX; brother, David (Elaine) Hughs, Fredericksburg, TX; brother, Clark (Kelly) Reeder, Lake Forest, CA; brother, Dale Reeder, Baldwin City, KS; and 12 nieces and nephews. We will all miss him forever.
There are no services planned at Dan’s request. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the KU Endowment Association on his behalf.
Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground
“If you had not have fallen
Then I would not have found you
Angel flying too close to the ground
And I patched up your broken wing
And hung around a while
Tryin’ to keep your spirits up
And your fever down
I knew someday that you would fly away
For love’s the greatest healer to be found
So leave me if you need to, I will still remember
Angel flying too close to the ground
Fly on, fly on past the speed of sound
I’d rather see you up than see you down
So leave me if you need to, I will still remember
My angel flying too close to the ground
Leave me if you need to, I will still remember
My angel flying too close to the ground”
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