Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Former Panola Circuit Clerk dead at age 80

Former Panola Count Circuit Clerk W. Joe Reid, 80, died Wednesday, July 29, 2015 at Baptist Memorial Hospital, Oxford.

Reid, born January 4, 1935, was elected circuit clerk in 1991 and served until his retirement in 2011. As circuit clerk Reid directed Panola County voters to their appropriate polling places through a series of boundary changes in supervisor, school board and Congressional districts.

Reid also managed the county’s transition to the touch-screen voting machines mandated by the 2002 Help America Vote Act.

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In 1994, Reid handled the selection of a panel of jurors from Panola County after defense attorneys for Byron De La Beckwith successfully argued that pre-trial publicity in Hinds County would prevent him from receiving a fair trial there.

The jury selection brought the regional media focus to the Batesville courthouse and Reid, who handled their interviews with his typical aplomb.

The Panola jurors were bussed to Hinds County where they found De La Beckwith guilty for the 1963 murder of civil rights leader Medger Evers. Reid was on hand to thank the jurors for their service when they returned to Panola County after 11 days’ sequestration in Jackson.

Reid’s witty repertoire included sarcasm and understatement. He often employed both in conversation and usually got away with it. He knew everybody’s most embarrassing moment and enjoyed retelling those moments in their presence before an audience.

In 2012, he agreed, only after sponsors agreed to change “roast” to “toast,” to be the guest of honor at the annual fundraising banquet for the Panola County Community Development Foundation. Reid got roasted anyway but gave back as good as he got when his turn came as the final banquet speaker.

A native of the Curtis Community and a farmer before his election to county office, he was a member of the First United Methodist Church of Batesville where he had served in various offices.

Reid was married to the former Sally Greenlee. Survivors also include their three children, Richard, Robin and Joseph, and grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Wells Funeral Home. The service will be at 11 a.m. Friday at the First Methodist Church. Burial will follow at the Batesville Magnolia Cemetery.