Yesterday morning, I received another alarming call that my friend Ken Reynolds had died. I knew he had been sick and struggling, recently. I’ve known of his previous health struggles. But I wasn’t prepared for this news. Ken was the quintessential publicist to Black Hollywood in his later years. Prior to that he had worked at a publicist at several record labels and established great relationships with artists and actors over the years. A few weeks ago, another friend and former music executive, Iris Perkins, lost her fight with cancer and before her, Carolyn Baker, also a music executive, lost her battle.
One who has had up close battles with cancer, I know that it is non-discriminant about age, race or gender. With the other losses from Sickle Cell and heart disease, age is not a factor in these cases, either. As a result, it makes me think about the importance of recognizing those who have made a mark, before it’s too late. Let me qualify by the words, “made a mark.” If you have done anything for anyone, you’ve made a mark. If you have considered anyone other than yourself, you have made a mark on someone’s life. The list grows day by day.
Today’s blog was going to tackle another socially-conscious issue. But learning of Ken’s death redirected my thoughts. I’ve been saddened by these losses, one after the other. I recall Iris, who I called “P,” (she called me “B”) handling a problem involving one of her clients. I couldn’t hear the conversation. I just watched “P” with her arms folded and head tilted to the right as the person tried to explain themselves out of her wrath. It didn’t work and I could only laugh. These are invaluable stories.
I recall moments when Ken was struggling with a health issue and he forced himself to persevere, handling press for a fundraiser, a celebrity’s book signing, a conference or convention. Sometimes Ken would work events that probably paid him very little or not at all. Regardless, he gave them all the same level of attention because he was doing what he loved…making it come off without a glitch, being around people and connecting people. There are other great publicists out there, who are equally passionate. I think of the W&W team – Aliya and Karen, Ron Carter, the Gwens – P & Q to name a few. They are a rare breed and we need to treasure them while we can.
When I think of Ken, I remember another great connector of people, Pat Tobin, who, like Ken, would introduce you to someone they equally admired, putting your hand in that person’s hand and walking away…job done! Good publicists are like spinners of hay into gold without leaving a trail. It’s a thankless job that requires the talent of moving the pieces behind the scene, while making the clients and the events radiate.
Ken will be sorely missed, as his memory moves into the space of another one gone too soon. I only hope that we are able to see his great photo archives become exhibits at museums and we can see Ken in the photo with that big smile and his arms outstretched on each side. It will allow his legacy to supersede him. From the expression on his face, that brightness in his eyes, even those who did not have the pleasure of knowing him will know that there stood a man who loved people and most of all…people loved him back. RIP Ken – Resting In your Purpose dear friend, we’re all better for knowing you.