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In the depths of the Depression, Sam Reed wanted to join the Boy Scouts.
Problem was, his family could not afford the dues of 5 cents a week, and he was forced to quit after a couple of weeks.
That did not stop his desire to serve scouting later in life.
He encouraged his oldest son, Charles to join the Cub Scouts through Harriman First Presbyterian Church in 1957. And when his youngest son, Gordon, became old enough, Sam started a Cub pack for him.
The father’s passion for scouting launched a family tradition of Eagle Scouts that continues to this day, with Charles and Gordon starting the Eagle lineage, which consists of six, including the brothers.
When Sam died last month at the age of 86, he left a line of Eagles who remained active in scouting themselves as adult leaders and guided their own sons to scouting’s highest rank.
To achieve the rank of Eagle, a Boy Scout must advance through five lower ranks, complete 21 merit badges and lead a service project that helps the community, often involving hundreds of volunteer hours by troop members.
When Charles moved up to the Boy Scouts in the early 1960s, his dad started working as an adult leader. Sam’s wife, Bettye, eventually became a Cub Den mother.
Retired after serving about 30 years as an adult leader, Charles, 61, still works with Troop 103 on the Eagle board of review, which vets candidates for Eagles.
Now 51, Gordon has spent about 26 years in Boy Scouts and now works with a troop in Arab, Ala., where he lives with his family.
Sammie Mowery, 58, Sam and Bettye’s only daughter, says scouting has always been a part of the family.
“There’s not a time that the family’s together that scouting doesn’t come up in some form or fashion,” said Sammie. “It’s always been there.”
The family tradition trickled down to the next generation for Gordon’s two sons, Hunter and Noah; Sammie’s two sons, Scott and Andy Mowery; and Charles’ grandson, Alex Hall.
Scott, 22, joined Troop 103 through Trenton Street Baptist Church in Harriman in 1999 and received his Eagle Scout rank four years later after completing his service project – retiring hundreds of flags in Harriman. He hopes to keep the legacy going when he has sons of his own.
“You know, I would love for my kids to get involved, and I think for me it’s been a big deal,” Scott said. “I see Scouts as a way to grow spiritually that can spiritually fill my child and other children.”
“Leadership, confidence, that’s what I’ve seen them all gain,” said Sammie.
Scott’s brother Andy, a student at Austin Peay State University, earned his Eagle rank in 2009. For his service project, he made improvements at the Old Indian Springs Nature Trail.
Andy recalled, when he wasn’t yet old enough to join the Scouts, a trip he took with Charles, his mom, brother and the scouts to Disney World in 1997.
“I’d invited you to go to get you jump started,” Charles told Scott, while Andy listened in on the phone, “and next thing I knew, the whole family was coming along. “It’s a good, cheap way to go to Disney World.”
Gordon’s two sons, Hunter, 21, and Noah, 15, have also received their ranks.
Six years older than Noah, Hunter got to experience Scouts twice, first on his trail to Eagle and then on his little brother’s.
Noah, who recently received his Eagle Scout rank, was motivated by his family members having achieved the rank. His grandfather, who was ill at the time, inspired him to reach the goal.
“I wanted to let him see that I could pull through and get it,” Noah said.
His Uncle Charles has been excited about future generations keeping the tradition going strong, with his Cub Scout grandson, Alex Hall, 7.
For Scott, he has especially enjoyed the closeness this experience has brought the family.
“Just knowing where it started and that it was my grandfather – Gordon and Charles’ dad – who started it, and we’re the ones who have kept it going and this legacy going on.”