Every Veteran Has a Story: Ellis Luther Reaves

Private Ellis Luther Reaves
United States Army, World War I
162ND Depot Brigade, Camp Pike Arkansas
©By Larry Hume, VFW Post 8904, Center, Texas

September 4, 2018 - One definition of “character” is the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual. Did you ever know a “character” growing up, someone you liked, admired and respected, thought you knew but didn’t know completely? Such an individual was Ellis Luther “Bud” Reaves of the Campti Community in Shelby County who passed on February 21, 1985 at the age of 97. Uncle Bud as he was known to many has been gone over 33 years but as has been said many times “never forgotten”. 

Fred Borders recently contacted me as a member of VFW Post 8904 about Uncle Bud who is buried in the Campti Methodist Cemetery and did not have any kind of military marker on his grave although he served during World War I. Checking into the Veteran Administration’s guidelines on providing markers I found that since he had a private stone and passed before November 1, 1990, he was not eligible for a VA headstone or marker. He was however eligible for a Government Medallion that could be attached to his private stone that identified him as a United States Army Veteran. Completed documentation was submitted on July 10, 2018. 

Mr. Reaves was born in McNeil, Columbia County, Arkansas on August 12, 1887 to John W. (1854-1934) and Jennie (1864-1948) Reaves. He grew up with two brothers, Adderson and Clyde and five sisters, Alice, Minnie, Laura, Rossie and Thelma. Sometime between 1900 when he was 12 and 1910 the family moved to Shelby County. I believe they lived in the Shelbyville area first and later the Campti Community. On June 5, 1917, the first national registration day for World War I he travelled to Center and like many others filled out his registration form. Uncle Sam came calling 13 months later and he again travelled to Center for induction on July 23, 1918. He was assigned to the 162 Depot Brigade, Camp Pike, Arkansas and served there to honorably discharge May 1, 1919 almost six months after World War I ended. He returned to Shelby County living with parents and caring for them until their passing. On April 27, 1942 at the age of 52 he once again registered for the military draft, this time World War II that many call the “old man’s draft”. Never married he lived out his 97 years in Campti, and rests next to his parents and sister Minnie. His arrangements were by Bartle Funeral Home, Center, Texas.

It took about 5 weeks to receive the medallion that was then affixed to Mr. Reaves stone. Fred and wife Linda spread the word in the Campti Community that there would be a dedication of the medallion and remembrance at the cemetery on Sunday, August 26, 2018 at noon. Unfortunately, there is no family left here but there were many who attended that remembered him as if he were family, with fondness and admiration. One comment I heard many times was that “he always took care of his mother and father”. If you are ever in the Campti Methodist Cemetery stop by his grave a say hi to “Mr. Bud” and thank him for his service to our country and community.

After the ceremony that evening Fred Borders posted the following to his facebook page (used with permission): “Some of you might remember me posting a picture of this monument a few months ago. This man was my next-door neighbor for the 1st 16 years after we moved to the Campti community. He was a bachelor and lived in the old falling down family home. By visiting with him l had learned that he was a ww1 veteran. My son Brian that grew up next door to him from 1 year old to about 15 became attached to him. Mr. Bud, as he was called, gave him a number of souvenirs from his army days. Back to my point, l had noticed that there was nothing on his marker indicating his army service. I contacted Larry Hume, quartermaster of the Center VFW Post 8904. He took it from there and researched his records and was able to get him a medallion to recognize his service. Today we had a dedication in his honor at the Campti Cemetery. Present were 4 veterans and VFW members. Quartermaster Larry Hume, Post Commander Gene Hutto, Vietnam Veteran Newton Johnson and Veteran John Piersol. Also, a good turnout from the community. Larry Hume made an excellent talk about Mr. Reaves. They then played the taps and dismissed us. I can't thank Mr. Hume and the other veterans enough for doing this for Mr. Reaves”. Fred it was certainly an honor for me and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8904 to have had a part in honoring and remembering Ellis Luther Reaves. We thank you for bringing it to light.

Now properly recognized as a US Army Veteran.

Great turnout of all ages to honor and remember Mr. Bud.