John Reeves, oldest son to W.P. Reeves - October 2010
I was stunned and overjoyed this evening when my youngest son, Brian, contacted me and informed me of the RRB website. Although I had left the band for military service in the U.S. Navy in 1951, many of the memories shared by previous band members triggered many of my own memories---some of which you might enjoy reading about, should the occasion present itself.
My father liked to be introduced as “W.P. Reeves” rather than as Walter Reeves. I think I’m the only family member left. My brother, Jimmy, died of a brain tumor. My mother, Gladys, passed away just a few months past her 101st birthday in 1993. She was living in Eureka, California at the time. I’m living in Boston, MA, working as a college professor & chairman of the Behavioral Science department at Bunker Hill Community College in Charlestown—a Boston neighborhood. The person who wrote the last entry of the website, Jerry Russel, was a good friend of mine during the “band years.”
If anyone is interested in my perspectives and memories of the band, I’d be happy to share. I don’t use Facebook or You Tube, but my email is
Biography of Jim Reeves from his wife, Nancy Reeves - November 2010
I am the widow of Jim Reeves, the younger son. I have framed photos of Reeves Rangers and even some old records. And here's the "news" .....
Not sure where to start. Jim and I were married in 1967 and Duane Wehrman was the Best Man. (I'm sure you remember him).
Walter died in 1968. Gladys then moved around a bit and became involved in the Church of Religious Science. She ended up in Eureka where she died at the age of 104!!!! just 6 years ago. I remember Jim telling me that she could play any of the instruments and when someone didn't show up she would play their part. We had fun looking at all the many pictures and played a game called "where's Gladys." She had a uniform so it was hard to spot her. Jim told me many stories about how strict his father was with the band kids. My favorite story is: when everyone would pile off the bus to get in line for a meal, and they all pushed and shoved to be first in line, he would wait for the line to form and would then say "about face." That took care of everything!
Jim's older brother John lives in Boston and we are in touch.
Jim continued to play his trumpet or cornet all thru our married lives. But as a sideline. He could play dixieland, cool jazz, big band jazz. Alas he never had an opportunity to join a marching band. He was in the diplomatic service and when we were in Sri Lanka he was first trumpet with the symphony orchestra and was featured once performing Haydn's Trumpet Concerto. He played with all the jazz musicians there. We had a ball. He spent 4 years in the Navy Band before he went to Berkeley for his degree.
In 1991 Jim got a brain tumor. He lived for 10 years and it was very difficult of course. Gladys outlived him and it was very hard on her. There are more Reeves musicians. My son composes and plays guitar and some trumpet. Jim had 2 children from a first marriage and he and I had 2. There are 8 grandchildren. Every one of them knows the heritage.
So I want to know if you've heard from anyone. I'll bet you've heard from my daughter, Jennifer, who forwarded your wonderful posting to me. I wish Jim were alive to have read your posting. He would probably remember you.
Thanks for such a fun surprise on a Monday morning.
I have some questions for you though. Were you a friend of Jim or John? Jim was born in 1935, John 1933. Have you heard from many people? I wonder just how many band members there actually were since the Rangers were around for so many years. What made you want to start this website? I think it's great.
Hello Nancy, Hope to answer your questions...
I knew of Johnny, saw him for a time, but I entered the band in 1951, the year he went into the military service. Jimmy was around a while longer as we were in the same picture with the C.A.P., Civil Air Patrol uniforms. I was born in 1939, so was 4 years younger. I knew of him, but he probably was not aware of me with so many in the band. He had left the band by 1955, as he was not with us when the band represented the Lions Club in a trip to Atlantic City New Jersey. I believe that WP Reeves retired in 1956. I was one of the "late bloomers" I guess, missing the :golden years", so I would like to know more about these earlier years. I am sure there were hundreds of kids in the Ranger band. I have posted in the Web page, with all the letters I have received since posting the site about five years ago. WP Reeves and Gladys meant a lot to me as a youngster. He was stern, but he would let you know if you did well. I remember coming home on the bus he turned to me and said that I was sounding good. I was the first trombone in the last years of the band. It was a great band and we knew that we were in the best band there was, because he told us so. I made the web site as a memory and tribute to them. Eventually others became aware of the web site and have shared their memories.
Here's something you might not know. When the Rangers began JIm was only 5. But Walter and Gladys couldn't leave him home alone and so he was taught how to play the trumpet (cornet?) and was a cute little kid marching in front of the band. (He told me he hated being on display like that). He played with the band all through school and joined the Navy as a musician when he graduated from high school.
Walter's first marriage was to woman whose 2 daughters were in his vaudeville act: MacIntosh and his Musical Maids. Walter wore a kilt and had 2 Airedales. They divorced.
Walter met Gladys when she went to him for trumpet lessons. She was 17 years younger that Walter.
The girl's band was called Merkeleys Musical Maids. Jim explained to me that Merkeleys was a local funeral parlor and the band was a sort of means of advertising. I have a beautiful brass medal, about 5 inches in diameter, awarded to the band in 1935 from the California Pacific International Exposition in San Diego.
Please contact me for more info if you need it, and please call me Nancy.
That is very interesting, thanks Nancy.
You must be one of the littler kids in the group photo I have when Jim was older. He graduated from high school and went into the Navy Band (like John had done) in 53 so would have missed the Lions Club trip. John would know about Walter's retirement. There's a newspaper article about Walter's retirement that would have the date.
It's amazing that you've had this website for 5 years and it took that long for any of us Reeves to learn about it. I guess John's son, Mark, is the one who saw it and then forwarded it to us. My daughter Jennifer said she emailed you today with her thoughts. She was very close to Gladys, especially in her very old age. In fact she and her husband flew out to Eureka from New York City to see her a week before she died.
A little bit of a bio of Jim. After the Navy he went to Berkeley where he majored in English. He took the Foreign Service exam and passed. He served in Madrid for 2 years (62-64) and went straight from there to Mexicali. His divorce occurred in 1966. In 1967 he was stationed in Washington DC and that's where I met him. We got married in Chicago, my home town. In 68 we were stationed to Nairobi where we stayed 2 years. We went from there to SriLanka and returned to the States in 1973. Jim resigned and got a job as a benefits specialist with a consulting firm. A couple more moves and then in 1991 we moved to our lake house here in southern Michigan. He had just been diagnosed with his brain tumor and could no longer work. He lived for 10 more years. So, he moved around a lot. In every place he found a way to play his trumpet. While he was at Berkeley he was a "substitute" for the San Francisco ballet and Opera and also with a Doctors Orchestra. He was in a big band called the Free Notes (they played for free at charity events in Chicago.) Or he would play in a local bar with a piano player. Sometimes at a wedding reception or large party with a band he would go home and get his trumpet and join in. And of course he would wake the kids with Reveille, or play Taps at 2 am from out boat our on the lake.
Jim's daughter, Jennifer Reeves - November 2010
Thank you so much for putting together the Reeves rangers site! I am Walter P. Reeves' grand-daughter, daughter of Jimmy Reeves. I'm now 39, a filmmaker, mother of a 22 month old, living in New York. My grandfather W.P. Reeves died a couple of years before I was born, so I am always thrilled to find ways of getting to know him a little bit. I don't know what I have to offer the site - maybe a few pictures (most though is with my mother in another state). Let me know if you'd like me to go digging and scanning...
Did you know that Gladys lived to be 104!? She had so much wisdom to share for such a long time.
All the best,
My Favorite Web sites
Reeves Ranger Band
Reeves Memories and History
Reeves Newspaper Clippings