|Paul Reif, painting in an Ohio prairie on November 16, 2004.|
I met Paul Reif in August 2002 at the first meeting of the Ohio Plein Air Society. Of all the photos that I had taken of Paul over the years, the one above is my favorite. He loved the prairie, and introduced it to all the members of our Society on this cold day, where we experienced every kind of weather from sun to sleet. But, as you can see, Paul was dressed for the occasion and painting happily away. I walked that property with him on this day to find a good painting spot. This was a privately owned prairie, around Urbana area of Ohio, and it was my first time in a tall grass prairie. The colors of the grasses in the fall were gorgeous. He knew it and wanted to share it.
The photo below was taken in 2005, at an OPAS paintout at Franklin Park Conservatory, and the one of him standing and chatting with the husband of one of the members was from around the same time, near the abode of Tom Harbrecht. Thank you Nancy Reif, for sharing your husband with us!
His funeral took place a few days ago and was a fitting memorial to the man, the artist. He was father to seven children, one girl only, but she's a special one. It was interesting to see the boys, who he'd described as fun-loving and a bit wild at times at their get togethers. They were indeed chips off the 'old block'. Many of them had beards, his nose, but I didn't get to witness the frivolity that Paul had described at their family gatherings. It was a pleasure to meet his family all the way down to the great-great granddaugter.
There were more than a few tears shed.
It was fantastic to see Paul's paintings displayed around the room, paint brushes in his hand, a reproduction of one of his paintings in the lid of his casket. And, he was wearing a yellow shirt, even if it was a little more subdued that the yellows in the photos here.
It was difficult to say goodbye to this man. We had quietly communicated for 15 years through emails and sometimes phone calls. I will miss him sending me a photo of his latest painting, whether it be one of the prairie in pastel, or one of his large acrylic florals. I miss him already.
When we all arrived at the grave site, a cat appeared. His family agreed that Paul would have loved that.
He was a Navy Man and received the honor of a 21-gun salute, followed by a bugler playing taps. The morning's rain had slowed to a drizzle, the notes were muted and traveled through the air mournfully across the country cemetery and into the fields beyond.