The guys who occupied the three twin beds in the upstairs apartment at 240-B Highland in Montevallo from fall 1982 through summer 1984 were legends in their own minds.
Shoot, what college students aren’t?
There was minimal turnover in occupancy. Mike and Terry and Klint occupied one of the beds at various times, but for a year and a half the two constants were Wes and yours truly.
Wes’s trademark was his sense of humor.
The man had a laugh that shook the walls and a smile that consumed his face.
Fortunately for those around him, he was generous with both. The man exuded absolute joy.
He was an avid mass communications major…he lived it and breathed it, spending hours on end working in the converted dairy barn that housed the studios.
He broadcast local high school football and U of M basketball, and he worked on the crew of at least one movie while at Montevallo.
He was never satisfied with anything less than perfection in his mass comm projects.
I’m glad he didn’t have that standard for his roommates.
He was a gentle man…quick to show forgiveness and quick to show love.
I learned a lot from him about both qualities.
One thing I’m most grateful to Wes for is introducing me to U2 while we lived at 240-B Highland. (They hadn’t been in heavy rotation in the little house on Highway 22 in Maplesville.)
Wes had a good career in television after graduation…stints in Huntsville, in Chattanooga, and in Dallas.
We spoke on the phone every couple of months for a few years, each conversation’s greetings beginning the same way.
I don’t remember how that started, but it was a comforting tradition.
When, how, and why we lost touch I have no idea.
But…near the end of the twenty-first century’s first decade, we reconnected, thanks to the great reuniter that is Facebook.
The man had been living in the Cayman Islands since the early 2000s (and – no – it had nothing to do with laundered money or offshore banking).
He was working as manager of electronic media for Government Information Services for the Caymans.
Wes lived in paradise for nearly ten years.
He got sick.
Damn cancer, specifically Hodgkin’s lymphoma, took him away from those of us who love him.
Wesley Reed Emanuel’s soul escaped his suffering corporeal shell on the seventh day of August in 2012.
I squalled when the message showed up.
This past Saturday, he would’ve turned fifty-eight.
“Wesley Reed! My friend, I miss you, I love you, and I thank you.”
I saw U2 on the Jimmy Kimmel show last week.
Wes stepped out of the shadows of my memories and once again filled me with happiness.
Like Bono and the band, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.
But…y’all know what?
Steve Latham – June 5, 2017