For family of Steve and Wendy Reid, grief, loss and a shattered sense of safety

  • A photograph of Wendy and Steve Reid at her 66th birthday party back in February of this year. Barbara ReidCourtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 7/2/2022 1:02:53 PM

Mark Reid still has voicemails on his phone from his brother, Steve. He replays birthday messages left by Steve and his wife, Wendy – a chance to hear their voices one more time.

Steve and Wendy left their house on April 18 for a walk along the Broken Ground trails. They never returned.

“To hear it, I feel like they’re still here,” said Mark. “I mean, it’s just impossible.”

After a life of world travel, humanitarian aid and a strong partnership, Steve and Wendy Reid retired to Concord in 2019, where Steve grew up. The second eldest of five siblings, Concord brought Steve closer to family and back to familiar grounds.

Wendy was nervous about the New Hampshire winter. Steve bought her a red winter coat, a good pair of mittens and winter hiking gear to embrace it. That she did, said Barbara, who is married to Steve’s brother, Peter Reid.

“She loved winter hiking. We did all the trails in Concord,” Barbara said. “We did the day-long hike up in Franconia Notch in the White Mountains. I think that’s quite an accomplishment for someone who feared the cold.”

Barbara and Wendy walked the Broken Ground trails the Friday before the murder.

While the women spent time hiking, Steve returned to playing tennis with his brother. He and Peter became doubles partners, after Steve sharpened his skills after 40 years off the court.

“He started using his brain, reading a couple of tennis books, watching YouTube videos,” Peter said. “And he kept getting better and better, and he started beating people.”

In fact, one of Steve and Wendy’s first dates was a tennis match, after a few invitations to play from Steve. And when Steve failed to show up at his weekly tennis game after their walk on April 18, it was the sign to family members that something was wrong.

Return to Concord

Steve and Wendy had always returned to Concord for vacation or to celebrate holidays with family. Their children, Lindsey and Brian, were both born in Concord. But upon retiring, the couple was home for good.

Initially, Peter and Mark worried if their brother would be able to settle in Concord and adapt to the slower pace of life. But now it is clear to the siblings, their brother was at peace here.

“They were happy, very happy, and it’s such a shame that this happened when they were finally happy and finally rested,” said Peter.

Although Steve and Wendy first met in Washington D.C., their work took them all over the world. Steve’s siblings said they were true humanitarians, dedicating their lives to helping others.

In Burkina Faso, Steve worked with a local organization through the U.S. Agency for International Development, while Wendy was a community liaison for the American embassy.

While in Haiti, Steve was working on a local governance project when the 2010 earthquake struck. For days, Steve and Wendy slept in their clothes, as tremors shook the island. Rather than fleeing, like many other Americans, they stayed. They even took in two of their colleges to live with them for seven months.

“After the earthquake, Steve and Wendy said, ‘No, you know, we’re not going to abandon the project that we came here to do, especially now,’ ” said Mark.

Typically in increments of five years at a time, Steve, Wendy and their children lived and worked across the globe. They were all fluent in multiple languages. The siblings laughed thinking of Wendy correcting people’s French dialects, as she spoke in a true Parisian tongue.

With each move, a new city presented different safety concerns from earthquakes to car accidents to high crime rates, not to mention the distance from family across oceans. But in the end, their lives ended in Steve’s childhood hometown.

“For us, it’s a cruel irony to think of where they lived in some incredibly sort of dangerous places, large metropolitan areas,” said Mark. “Then to come back with the plan of retiring here, buying a home, with the lowest homicide rate in the entire country, and to have that happen to them.”

Still unsolved

During the first news conference after Steve and Wendy’s murder in April, the Reid family gathered in the living room of Barbara and Peter’s house to watch it on television. Speaking from Concord City Hall Chambers, Geoffrey Ward, the Senior Assistant Attorney General, announced that Steve, 67 and Wendy, 66, each died of multiple gunshot wounds and their deaths were ruled homicides. He asked for the public’s help to solve the crime.

Ward ended the conference by sharing his condolences for the Reid family.

“When I heard that on TV, I said, ‘Oh my gosh, how many times do you hear that on the news? So many times you hear that and never in a in a nanosecond would you believe that they would be saying that to your family,’ ” she said. “That’s when it really hit me. He’s speaking to our family.”

More than two months later, the investigation remains ongoing, according to Michael Garrity, a spokesman for the New Hampshire Department of Justice.

“The Concord Police, working with their county, state and federal law enforcement partners, continue to pursue all leads and follow-up on all tips received,” he wrote in a statement.

Although there are no new leads and arrests made, the Reids are not giving up.

“We’re really hoping something new will come out something that will give us hope that there’s a possibility of bringing this person or people to justice,” said Mark.

They are still coming to grip with what was taken that day. For Brian and Lindsey, they lost both parents that afternoon. For Peter and Mark, they lost a brother and tennis partner. For Barbara, she lost a friend and confidant in Wendy.

And for a family that grew up in Concord, they lost a sense of safety and security. After living in Concord for 40 years, Barbara no longer walks the trails alone.

“It’s not just because of the memory of being with Wendy there – it’s now I don’t feel comfortable out there,” she said. “I can’t even imagine doing that right now. This is so unsettling for this to have happened in Concord, New Hampshire.”

In the immediate aftermath, Barbara wondered if they should leave Concord. Although she and Peter have no plans to move, it is hard for the family to come to terms with the murder occurring in their hometown.

“We recognize that now, violent crime can happen anywhere in the United States as we hear every single day in the news,” Mark said. “We just didn’t ever think it would happen here.”

Remembering Steve and Wendy

More than 250 people came from across the globe in remembrance of Steve and Wendy to their memorial service on June 24. Wendy’s brother, Jacob Pasgo, came from Burkina Faso. Friends and co-workers came from Haiti. Fellow Peace Corps members came from all over. Family members gave their own eulogies. Letters from friends, who could not be in attendance, were read aloud.

At the end, the final words came from Steve himself.

Twenty six years ago, Steve wrote a letter to his wife and children to be read in the event of his death. It lived sealed in their apartment in Concord. Brian and Lindsey found it after their parents death.

The letter served as a road map for how Steve wanted his children to live the rest of their lives without him.

“That could have been the eulogy just that alone, because it was his own words to his wife and children on the importance of values and living your life to its fullest and being humbled regardless of whether you’re talking to the maid or a CEO of a company,” Mark said. “It was his life in a letter.”

A man of few words, Steve found his voice on the page. His family also discovered dozens of love letters to Wendy left behind – his messages beautiful, his language complex, yet precise.

“I was blown away when I finally read some of the things he had written in his life,” said Peter. “He was so humble, that you would never know that he was that gifted a writer.”

Looking ahead

Framed pictures of Wendy and Steve now decorate a blue wooden cabinet in Barbara and Peter’s dinning room.

They know days like Steve and Wendy’s birthdays will be moments of sadness and celebration. Lobster was one of Wendy’s favorite meals. They ate it on her 66th birthday in February.

The home opener for Notre Dame football this fall will also be a sentimental day for the Reids. A Notre Dame alum, Steve loved the Fighting Irish, graduating with a degree in English in 1978.

And there’s Thanksgiving, which remained their favorite holiday as they lived across the globe. This year, Steve and Wendy talked about hosting family at their place in the Alton Woods apartment complex.

They’ll also miss Wendy’s cooking. She would spend days cooking Steve’s favorite African dishes. Barbara, Mark and Peter reminisced over her famous leaf sauce, a meal that took three days to make.

“It was made with tons of spinach, chunks of beef, huge jumbo shrimp and crab meat still in the shells,” said Barbara.

Wendy insisted on ordering crabs from Maryland for the dish.

Most of all, the siblings will miss the time they lost, the list of things they never got to do.

Peter wanted to go to Montreal with Steve to play tennis. He also hoped they would go to the Miami Open, to see Mark on the trip.

Mark wishes he got to play tennis with his brothers.

“I just started playing tennis a year ago again,” he said. “I was so looking forward to coming and being able to play with him. With them.”

Steve sent a photo to mark that will always stick with him. It is a photo of Steve, Peter and their brother, Scott, playing together.

“Missing the fourth Reid brother,” Steve wrote.


MICHAELA TOWFIGHI

Michaela Towfighi is a Report for America corps member covering the Two New Hampshires for the Monitor. She graduated from Duke University with a degree in public policy and journalism and media studies in 2022. At Duke she covered education, COVID-19, the 2020 election and helped edit stories about the Durham County Courthouse for The 9th Street Journal and the triangle area's alt-weekly Indy Week. Her story about a family grappling with a delayed trial for a fatal car accident in Concord won first place in Duke’s Melcher Family Award for Excellence in Journalism. Towfighi is an American expat who calls London, England, home despite being born in Boston.



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