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Vernon Frank Reeves, husband, father and patriarch of a deeply saddened family died Wednesday, April 5, in Tallahassee, Florida after a life exceedingly well lived. He was 97 years old. Soft-spoken and clear, always with a big grin, Frank never looked the part of a hero. Born in Okeechobee, Florida on Oct 27, 1925, to Vernon Reeves and Doren Garlington Reeves, to those who called him “PopPop”, “Dr. Frank”, or “friend”, he was a giant. When a man died in Ancient Greece, only one question was asked: “Did he have passion?” For those who knew Frank, the answer was always the same--”Yes!” To Frank, everything was an adventure. In his final years, no matter his physical struggles or challenges, he was known for one repeating phrase—”What’s next?” Frank had one enduring belief. That the measure of a man’s life was not the amount of individual gain accrued, but rather one’s quiet collection of courageous and important moments. Those moments for Frank—family, an innate curiosity in humanity, or the desire for a just world—were all that mattered. Father of three girls, and grand or great grandfather of twelve,
Frank was a true inspiration. This was because he had only one consistent approach. When asked by a son-in-law for advice on a parenting issue, Frank’s answer was clear, “Just love em.”. His life as an educator was launched with a bachelor’s degree in Science Education and continued through to a doctorate in education. As assistant school superintendent he courageously fought to help integrate the first county school system in Florida. He was also the first Eagle Scout from Okeechobee, and first Order of The Arrow awardee, the highest honors for living scouting’s values. Almost as much as his devotion of family and belief in justice, Frank loved our National Parks, having visited over 37 in his lifetime. He was particularly fond of Glacier and the Great Smoky Mountains. There he found a solace and grandeur that helped fuel his lifelong curiosity of all things alive. A passionate traveler, Frank visited 49 states. He planned to see Hawaii when Covid hit— sadly his list was never completed. In his final years, Frank’s body began to slow, but his mind, sharp and ever ready, remained curious and fascinated. He never stopped learning, and to the end, was a true student of the world. His trademark, “What’s next?”, was as much about learning as it was about doing. In his final weeks he could be found at a potter’s wheel, making one last bowl for family. Frank was preceded in death by his parents, his first wife, Lurelene Kelly Reeves, his brother Laurens Reeves and his step-son, Paul Troke. He leaves behind his loving wife of 40 years Gail Straat Reeves, three daughters, a beloved step-daughter and step-son, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Everyone he touched was better for having known him, and in his shadow, a family tightly bound by the ministry of his life, remains. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the National Park Foundation