Barely over a week ago I received an email from a man I had never met – Bobby Dean Rennick – inquiring about a distant relative of mine I had never met, six-time Indy 500 driver Jimmy Reece.
In 2012 I wrote a blog about Jimmy Reece and his untimely death at a race at the New Jersey State Fairgrounds on September 28, 1958. Bobby Dean Rennick was at that race with his girlfriend, Maryanne. The death of Jimmy Reece, whose name Bobby Dean didn’t even know at the time, had always haunted him. After 60+ years he began to do some internet research on the long ago death of Jimmy Reece. That led him to my blog and, subsequently, to me.
I’m glad it did.
As we began to exchange emails, I found out quite a bit about Bobby Dean. He is 86 years old and a Korean war vet. He resides in Gastonia, N.C. Last summer my wife and I unknowingly visited his stomping grounds on a drive from Damascus, Va. to Myrtle Beach, N.C. He was once near our home when he attended a family reunion in Warrensburg, Mo., 78 miles west of our home on Highway 50. He likes to write and recently had an article published in a magazine named Southern So & So. He once visited Renick, Mo., pop. 190, fifty-eight miles north of our home. This past week in the Jefferson City News Tribune, I read the obituary of a man from Jefferson City who was to be buried in Gastonia, N.C., and the obituary of a man from Renick, Mo. And Jefferson City’s former Fire Chief was named Bob Rennick.
What are the odds?
I also learned what my name would be if I’d been born a little deeper in the south. Since my actual name is Robert Douglas, I’d probably be known as Bobby Doug.
Bobby Doug, meet Bobby Dean, a remarkably fit 86-year-old who spends an hour in the pool at the Gastonia Y four times a week. And who is quite an internet sleuth at any age, but especially for an octogenarian. Assisted by my genealogical genius wife, Val, Bobby Dean even tracked down Jimmy Reece’s widow and talked to her on the phone.
Bob occasionally has short articles published in the Southern So & So magazine, as in “Southern owned and Southern Operated”. It is a magazine of people reminiscing about fond memories of long ago. Unfortunately, in the last issue Bobby Dean’s story “Little People in a Box” was edged out by a story about “The Goat Man” for the cover article.
If you are interested in subscribing (like I did), send a check for $22 for 6 issues to:
Southern So & So, Richard Burns, Editor 1739 University Ave – #177 Oxford, MS. 38655
Tell them Bobby Dean sent you!
One last note. In my last blog, I invited Maryanne, Bobby Dean’s date at the New Jersey State Fair race where Jimmy Reece died, to contact me if by some chance she read the blog. A picture of her taken in 1958 standing in front of a 1958 Chevrolet convertible and beside a 1957 Ford convertible was in the blog.
I have some sad news. According to her obituary, (which Bobby Dean tracked down this week) she passed away on January 22, 2016, in Newark, DE. And I have some more news. Her name wasn’t Maryanne. It was Betty Anne (Kiesel) Cox. She left behind her husband of 56 years, Robert.
R.I.P., Betty Anne.
Bobby Dean – you may have found out a bunch of stuff on Jimmy Reece on the internet, but maybe, just maybe, Betty Anne has now gotten to meet him
Betty Anne (aka Maryanne) Kiesel Cox