Community lost a #8216;good friend#8217; in Reggie Gilliam

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 14, 2008

To the Editor:

Last week we lost a great public servant and friend to the City of Franklin.

Reggie Gilliam was a friend to all throughout his 81 years. Reggie served so many of us over his working career from his radio and TV repair shop here in Franklin.

That honest, smiling face seemed to always brighten your day. He and his business supported city and county projects and activities as he served those of us in need of electronic repairs. His community-minded spirit kept him and Mattie busy giving back and making a difference in the lives of others, especially the youth.

His service to Southampton County spanned more than 25 years on the Board of Supervisors, serving as chairman of the board his last seven years. His quiet, persistent nature influenced others and afforded him many accomplishments. I remember Reggie working with my dad, Del. Councill, all those many years to push for the widening of Highway 58, known as suicide strip. And then there was the overpass at Southampton High School on Route 35.

Personally, I remember working with Reggie and Mike Johnson on the ratification of the revenue sharing and non-annexation agreement with Southampton and the City of Franklin. We considered every issue possible and worked out a shared revenue agreement that seems to be serving us all very well.

His forward-thinking, collaborating nature made working with the county pleasant and successful.

We both shared the vision of working together for our common good as a region. We would share our resources and strengthen each other’s jurisdiction.

While it takes a whole board to govern, it takes a leader — a chairman — to devote the time and energy to guide the process and reach out regionally. I like what Jimmy Gray, former vice chairman of the Board of Supervisors, said: “If there’s ever been a statesman, he (Reggie) was probably it in Southampton County.” “He was a great person.” “He was a great servant of Southampton County.”

His involvement in Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the Sportsman Association and Franklin Southampton Area Chamber of Commerce, and his service to his church, Pleasant Plain Baptist Church in Drewryville, just shows his commitment to his entire community and its citizens.

While Reggie Gilliam leaves behind a legacy, a lovely wife, Mattie, and a tradition of selfless service, we have all lost a friend, a regional thinker, a collaborator and servant.

May we all be inspired by his selfless, quiet service to others and his community.

We are better for having known Reggie Gilliam and been influenced by his quiet and effective leadership.

I think it can be said of Reggie that “when he was in the service of his fellowman (in so many ways) he was only in the service of his God.”

Well done, thy good and faithful servant. We will miss you, Reggie Gilliam. Thanks for the memories.

Jim Councill

Franklin mayor