We closed a special chapter in the story of Belmont Abbey this past Friday, October 9, with the death of Dr. Michael Reidy – known to most of us as Mike, or simply, Coach. He died peacefully with Bonnie at his side, as was appropriate.
Mike and Bonnie arrived at the college for the fall semester 1969, fifty-one years ago. At the Abbey they found a job, a mission and a home. Earlier this year, they had the joy of celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary.
Coach Reidy was a big man and a big presence in our abbey family. He arrived with the reputation of a star basketball player at DeMatha High School in Maryland, then at Campbell College (now University). At the Abbey, he filled a variety of roles: tennis coach, volleyball coach, swimming coach, Athletic Director, professor and Chair of the Recreational Studies and Sports Management Program, intramural director, etc. etc. etc. When he retired in 2013, he didn’t really retire, but continued to help the college through his extensive contacts with alumni and friends.
Mike was also the Abbey’s ambassador to Gaston County. He was well known and well liked. He spent his life helping others. Particularly memorable was his leadership in hosting the Gaston County Special Olympics at the Abbey for more than twenty years, bringing the special Olympians and the Abbey students together in a win for both. He also created aa adaptive aquatics class which brought residents of Holy Angels and Abbey students to swim together.
Coach Reidy’s most enduring legacy comes from his role as a mentor and teacher for innumerable players, students and friends. He taught his players that academics were first, and that if you did not learn good sportsmanship, you were not on his team. Countless alumni refer to him as a second father, and acknowledge that they owe much of their success personally and professionally to Coach.
Coach Reidy’s accomplishments were recognized on numerous occasions. He was inducted into the Campbell University Sports Hall of Fame, the City of Belmont Sports Hall of Fame and, most recently, into the Gaston County Sports Hall of Fame. In 2008 he was inducted into the inaugural class of the Belmont Abbey Sports Hall of Fame, which, was named the Dr. Michael P. Reidy Athletics Hall of Fame in his honor. In 2013, thanks to the generosity of Johnnie Lowry, the Abbey’s new tennis complex was named the Michael and Bonnie Reidy Tennis Center.
It is thus with a tinge of sadness that we close this chapter of the Abbey’s story, but also with much gratitude and appreciation. We are not saying good-bye, because Coach Reidy’s influence lives on in the lives of many players and students he guided, and they, in turn, have passed it on to others. The depth of his influence was seen in the way so many former players and students assisted Coach and Bonnie with their attention, assistance and affection in these last years.
The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated for Coach Reidy Wednesday afternoon, October 14, with burial following in the Abbey Cemetery. Because of the pandemic, the service will be private. Later in the spring or summer, when conditions allow, Bonnie would like to have a celebration of Mike’s life for all his family and friends. The Alumni Office will keep you informed.
Let us thank Coach Reidy in the way he would most appreciate – by living what he taught us. Let us accompany him with our prayers, grateful for his presence among us and happy that he can now receive the reward God promises to His faithful servants. And let us remember to keep Bonnie in our thoughts and prayers as well.
Mike, you’re the Best!
Bonnie has requested that, in lieu of flowers, Mike be remembered by donations to Belmont Abbey College.