Virginia Faye (Pernell) Reeder, 66, passed away Sunday, August 30 at her daughter’s home in Morehead.
Faye died as a result of complications from frontotemporal degeneration (FTD), a disease that causes progressive degeneration of the temporal and frontal lobes of the brain, the areas generally associated with personality, behavior and language. FTD is a rare disorder, distinct from other forms of dementia, in which onset often occurs in a person’s 50s and 60s. FTD cannot be cured and currently there is no known way to slow its progression.
Born May 24, 1949, Faye was the daughter of the late Jesse and Nora Hamilton Pernell. She is survived by three children, Kimberley Michele Reeder, Jerry Michael (J.M.) Reeder II (Beth) and Kathryn Kary Reeder (Chris Merritt); three granddaughters, Ansley Perryman, Abbey Reeder and Clara Reeder; a soon-to-be-born granddaughter who will miss getting to know her Grammy; and many brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and friends.
Faye was devoted to her children; they were the loves of her life. She worked tirelessly to ensure they would grow into capable adults. Despite being raised in a family that didn’t emphasize education, Faye had an innate understanding of its importance. She spent hours reading to Kim, J.M. and Kathryn. They recall Green Eggs and Ham, Where the Sidewalk Ends and The Story of Ferdinand as being a few favorites. Even late in her illness, she would recite parts of these books (“Sam I am, Sam I am, I do not like green eggs and ham.”). She made sure the bookmobile visited their home regularly and, along with her children, watched KET educational programming. Kim, J.M. and Kathryn have fond memories of enjoying songs and skits from Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood and the Electric Company with their mother. She attended countless Girl Scout, Cub Scout and RCSHS speech team events. Traveling alone, she bravely flew on an airplane and rode on a train for the first time because she refused to miss Kim’s graduation from Yale University.
The only love that could have eclipsed her love for her children was her love for her granddaughters. In the last months of her life, nothing excited her more than visiting with Ansley, Abbey and Clara.
Her belief in the value of education was also evident in the path she chose for herself. She earned a B.A. in Sociology/Criminology from Morehead State University and a Master’s in Social Work from University of Kentucky. Faye also practiced as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She worked for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services as a social worker in Rowan, Morgan and Bath Counties. She was also Director of D.O.V.E.S. of Gateway and served in various social worker roles in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Faye Reeder was a warrior. She overcame heavy burdens of poverty to create opportunities for a better life for herself, her children and her grandchildren. Throughout, she advocated on behalf of some of the most marginalized members of our society. Her children are grateful that she passed this tenacity and concern for others along to them. During the progress of her disease, these traits gave them the strength to maneuver through a criminal justice system with no understanding of dementia and a broken healthcare system in which most providers could not be bothered to learn about the idiosyncrasies of her illness. Nevertheless, it is often in difficult circumstances that we are surprised by compassion, such as that shown for Faye by District Court Judge Don Blair and Dr. Charles Smith and the staff of the Kentucky Neuroscience Institute.
During the last eleven months, Faye was a resident at Cave Run Manor of Morehead. Kim, J.M. and Kathryn will be forever grateful to Melany and Emily Workman and the staff of Cave Run Manor for the loving attention they gave to their mother. If happiness can be measured in cheeseburgers and milkshakes, Faye Reeder was one joyful lady.
A celebration of Faye Reeder’s incredible life will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration (www.theaftd.org) or The Sanders-Brown Center on Aging Foundation (http://www.uky.edu/coa/center-aging-foundation).
Also, in Faye’s memory please consider showing kindness and love towards those around you.
The Michael R. Gray Funeral Home - Morehead is caring for all arrangements