Home > A&E > Society preserves legacy of YHC alumni

Society preserves legacy of YHC alumni

September 25, 2010

By Kyle Huneycutt,  A&E Section Editor

Not many people who attend Young Harris College are aware of its rich, cultural history or the men and women who helped shape it. Among these individuals was a man named Byron Herbert Reece. Reece was an alumni of YHC, and later taught from 1935 to 1942. Eventually, he would become a professor at YHC until the time of his death in 1958. He was an incredibly talented poet, and the beautiful Appalachian Mountains served as a wellspring of inspiration for his many works.

Reece’s life was marked by tragedy, first, through the death of his parents and then from the illness that would lead to severe depression and the eventual decision to take his own life. His contribution to poetry and the impact he had in Union County will not be forgotten. In order to preserve Reece’s memory and legacy, The Byron Herbert Reece Society was formed by James and Frances Mathis who were given ownership of the Reece property in Union County several years ago.

The society originally sought to preserve the property that had such a profound impact on Reece’s life and provide a means for anyone interested in him or his poetry to have the resources to discover more about them. In 2002, the Society made Dr. John Kay, professor emeritus of religion and philosophy at YHC, the chair of the organization. Through this appointment the society has flourished by means of reaching out to various members of the community, and the firm determination to immortalize Reece and his works.

Although Dr. Kay is unavailable for an interview at this time, the society’s mission statement is displayed on their website, www.byronherbertreecesociety.org. Its purpose is “to preserve, perpetrate, and promote the literary and cultural legacy of the Georgia mountain poet/novelist, Byron Herbert Reece. In addition to enhancing both knowledge and appreciation for his writings, efforts will be made to honor his way of life, with particular emphasis on his love of nature and his attachment to farming.” Through the efforts of YHC and the Byron Herbert Reece Society, Reece’s voice will continue to echo through the valleys of the Appalachian Mountains and beyond.


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