WILMINGTON — Elsie Mae Canady Reid, 95, passed away Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017, due to complications from a recent stroke. She was born to Julius Gordon Canady and Daisy Lee Canady at home in Seagate, New Hanover County, N.C., on Dec. 25, 1921.
Elsie grew up as the youngest of five children in a house on Park Avenue in Winter Park, built by her father, who was an engineer for the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad.
She would often talk about the chickens, goats and other livestock the family kept at home and never lost her love for animals of all kinds throughout her life. For Elsie, Wilmington in the 1920s and 1930s was a magical place; streetcars, shell roads, large family gardens, big band music on the radio, and, of course, the beautiful beaches. After her father died, her mother sold the Winter Park house and bought rental property at Carolina Beach. There, she fell in love with the ocean, with its salt air and sand becoming a part of her soul forever.
After graduating from New Hanover High School in 1938, Elsie attended Miller-Motte Training School. There, she learned the secretarial skills that would carry her throughout her life. During the early 1940’s, Elsie worked as a secretary for the Corps of Engineers at the Customs House in downtown Wilmington. There, she met a handsome Coast Guard petty officer from Boyd, Texas, William H. Reid, who was working for the captain of the Port of Wilmington. They courted, became engaged and were married in Wilmington on Dec. 1, 1943.
For the next 20 years, Elsie was the dedicated service wife, traveling with her husband to duty stations from Alaska to Virginia to New Orleans while raising a family of six children. After her husband retired from the Coast Guard in 1961, she and her family returned to make their home at Carolina Beach.
Over the next 40 years, Elsie had several memorable employers in Wilmington. She embodied a work ethic that inspired her children and all who knew her. She was an executive secretary at WECT, The American Cancer Society, Dr. Bear and Dr. Brown’s Ob-Gyn Practice, First Presbyterian Church, Victaulic Company of America and Cape Fear Tutoring, sometimes working two jobs (paper routes, Tupperware, Amway) to help provide for her family.
Elsie was a gracious Southern woman with a beautiful smile and twinkling blue eyes. Always younger in heart than her physical years, she was as charismatic as she was charming with a bubbling childlike innocence and curiosity. She was an award-winning ballroom dancer, a marvelous cook, a lover of oysters, ice cream and figs. She was a talented seamstress who often made her daughters’ prom dresses, patterned from current fashions. Her love of gardening, the ocean and music has left an indelible mark upon her children and grandchildren. Her voice will be missed; a sweet combination of Southern ease with a touch of down east drawl, but her spirit, love for life and family will continue to live in all who knew her.
Elsie had been a member of Advent Christian Church in Wilmington and previously at Carolina Beach Baptist in Carolina Beach, N.C.
In addition to her parents, Elsie was preceded in death by her husband, Bill Sr., and granddaughter, Hannah.
She is survived by her children, William H. Reid, Jr. (Teri), Jacqueline Reid, Debbie Reid Culbertson (George), Jeffrey Reid (Heidi), Troy Reid (Pam), Michele Reid; and grandchildren, Ryan Reid (Lara), Jackson Aaron Reid, Colton Culbertson, Luke Culbertson, Gabriel Reid and Caroline Reid. Also surviving are two great-grandchildren, Sophie and Mateo.