My dad passed away early this morning. We knew this was coming, so it wasn’t a shock, but yet it always is, of course, when someone who has always been there no longer is.
Marion Reasoner (no middle name) was born in the community of Indian Creek, Texas, on February 5, 1916. Indian Creek no longer exists; when the Army built its huge training base, Camp Bowie, in Brownwood in the early Forties, it completely took in Indian Creek, and the town, never big to start with, disappeared. My dad was raised on a farm and cowboyed a little as a young man on the old Binion spread, owned by the father of famous gambler Benny Binion. He managed a bowling alley in Brownwood, worked as a civilian aircraft mechanic during World War II, and then as a member of the Signal Corps strung telephone wire across most of Austria in ’45 and ’46. He came back to aircraft work after his time in the Army and worked in that industry until he retired in the mid-Seventies. At the same time he worked as a TV repairman and continued with that long after his official “retirement”. He started a TV and appliance sales and service shop and I worked for him for several years, running the office and doing a little repair work. (I was never good at it, though.) Most of my early writing, including my first novel, was done a paragraph at a time in between loading and unloading TVs, washers, dryers, refrigerators, etc.
Although he liked to read as a young man, he stopped for a long time, devoting most of his time to work, as many Depression-era kids did when they grew up. He thought the idea of somebody wanting to write books for a living was utterly nuts. Writers were people who lived somewhere else, not in little towns in Texas. But whether he understood it or not, he made sure I had a chance to give it a try. I’m also convinced I inherited whatever storytelling talent I have from him, because anybody who knew him knows how much he liked to talk and spin yarns. And when I began to have some success, he became the world’s biggest booster of my work. He told everybody he ran into about me and the books I had written, and he carried copies around in his truck while he was doing TV work and sold them to his customers. Earlier this summer, while he was in the hospital in bad shape, he was still plugging my books to the nurses.
He read just about everything that I wrote and became a big reader again, not just of my work but of any books he could get his hands on, especially Westerns. During the Nineties, he went with me to a couple of Western Writers of America conventions and had a great time hanging around with writers and editors. He learned a lot about the business and always wanted to know what I was working on and what deals I had coming up. A writer couldn’t ask for a better dad, or a better friend.
He was married for over 63 years to my mom and raised me and my brother and sister and did a fine job, if I do say so myself.