By Tia Lynn Leorchick staff writer
Madison Mayor Fred Perriman, president and co-founder of the Morgan County African American Museum, came to this newspaper with the idea of choosing four married couples in the community to be spotlighted during Black History Month in February.
W.J. Reid, 77 and Martha Julia Reid, 75, have spent the last 58 years as a married couple, overcoming all of life’s obstacles and curve-balls together as they raised a flourishing family and established themselves as invaluable pillars of the community.
The Reids met in Morgan County at then Pearl Street High School. Martha Reid was still in high school when the two decided to marry in 1955, after two years of courtship.
“I knew I was going to be a preacher since I was 10-years-old. Marriage went along with my belief in Christ. I wanted to find a wife. I was quite young, but it seemed like this all fell into place. We were seeing each other and love just grew on from that. It’s been stronger and stronger each day,” said W.J. Reid.
“We fell in love with each other and we made a promise to get married,” said Martha Reid who married at the young age of 17. W.J. Reid has spent over 50 years sharing his faith with the community, believing the Christian faith must be preached to all people.
Throughout W.J.’s preaching career, he has pastored and co-pastored several churches throughout Georgia. He became the pastor of Springfield Missionary Baptist Church in Madison in 1967, the church he retired from just two years ago.
He also served as the pastor of Plainview Missionary Baptist Church in Madison for 29 years, beginning in 1962. In 1992, W.J. gave up his involvement in other churches to focus solely on Springfield Missionary Baptist church here in Madison.
The Reids have four children and five grandchildren who all live locally in Madison, Covington, and Buckhead. For the Reids, the secret to creating a long-lasting marriage is based on respect.
“The husband is supposed to respected and the wife is supposed to be respected. It’s a give and take. When you show respect, you get respect back. That’s what I try to do,” said Reid.
“If you don’t have respect, marriages get torn and broken.” “Communication is also very important,” added Martha.
“You have to be assured that you love your husband and that he loves you.” The Reids believe a myriad of factors in today’s society contribute to the decline of long-lasting marriages.
“Everyone is in such a rush. Take the time in getting to know your mate. Don’t rush into marriage. Make sure you know about him and he knows about you. Of course, you will learn things after you get married that you had no idea about. “
“Also, try to get your education first before you get married, and make sure you truly love each other,” said Martha.
“Back then, we didn’t rush things,” added W.J. “We didn’t go buying houses and cars we couldn’t afford. Now the debt can get so deep and bills go unpaid month after month, leaving couples without the time to love each other like they should, or fellowship like a married couple should. Husbands are having to work two or three jobs to make their bills. Today, couples spend lots of time apart from each other,” explained W.J. “But we are praying people, trying to set an example for younger people coming behind us,” said Reid.
Although married-life is difficult in today’s world, the Reids faced their own marital and social hardships when they first married during the era of Jim Crow laws before the day of civil rights had dawned.
“To think about how Madison used to be and to see it now, it’s an incredible improvement,” said W.J. “We’ve gone from segregation to electing a black mayor. We’ve come a long way.”
Reid recalled the horrors of the pre-civil rights south, from having to use the backdoor in public establishments to being unjustly harassed by the police, from watching members of the KKK terrorize his community to even seeing his own father kicked and beat by white citizens.
“I’ve experienced it all. It was a great teacher for me, experiencing situations of that nature,” said W.J. Reid.
“I’ve seen black people so frightened they wouldn’t participate in the marches. We knew all too well of the burning crosses in yards and church bombings.”
The Reids are thankful for the positive changes they have seen in their lifetime. Now, their focus is to encourage all people to be good to one another and work together to take care of each other.
“We have had a great change. It’s wonderful to see what white people and black people have done when they work together. We all need to be God-fearing and get on our knees together,” said W.J. Reid.