CRAMERTON LEGEND DIES: Reece played on title teams at old Cramerton High and at Belmont Abbey
By Richard Walker
Cramerton lost one of its all-time sports legends when Arnold “Ted” Reece died at 93 on Monday at Robin Johnson Hospice in Dallas, N.C.
A lifelong Cramerton resident, Reece played on back-to-back state championship basketball teams at old Cramerton High School in 1944 and 1945 and also played at Belmont Abbey College and while serving the Cramerton community.
Born on July 5, 1928 in Gaston County, Ted was the son of the late Susan McCarter and I.T. Reece. He was preceded in death by his loving wife of 57 years Sarah Jane Wilkinson Reece; 3 sisters and 5 brothers.
Ted is survived by his daughter Mira Reece Harris of Belmont; son Timothy Gordon and his wife Kim of McLeansville, NC; grandchildren – his “A-Team” Ashley Harris Schuman (Zachary). Allison Harris Lafone (Jordan), Anna Reece Mitchum (Greg), Abby Reece; great grandchildren Avery Blair and Everette Schuman, Easton Lafone, Caroline, Henry and Sarah Mitchum. He also is survived by his sister, Kate Grice, Gastonia and sister in law Gladys Reece, Cramerton and brother in law Don Lingerfelt, Mt. Holly and many nieces, nephews and extended family.
A memorial service in his honor was held on Thursday at Cramerton Independent Presbyterian Church.
Ted was the youngest of ten children and a life-long member of Cramerton Independent Presbyterian Church.
After retiring from Burlington Industries and C.H. Patrick, Ted was a founding member of the Cramerton Historical Society and was a former Cramerton Citizen of the Year. He was the recipient of the Cramerton Lifetime Service Award in 2018 and the Cramerton Veteran’s Memorial “Spirit of the Memorial Award.” Also known as “Mr. Cramerton” and “The Pickle Man,” Ted was an avid golfer and enjoyed many days spent with the “Lunch Bunch” at old Lakewood Golf Course that was located on the site of Stuart Cramer High School.
A lifelong sports fan, Ted lettered in three sports at Cramerton High and Belmont Abbey College.
He most famously played on Cramerton’s 1944 and 1945 N.C. High School Athletic Association Class B back-to-back state championship-winning basketball teams. And in 2015 during the town of Cramerton’s 100th birthday celebration, Ted and teammate Don Fletcher were presented with a banner acknowledging those titles that remain the only back-to-back boys basketball state champions in Gaston County history.
The Eagles went 23-1 and 19-5, respectively, in those two seasons. And they won their championships in games played on school homecourts due to travel restrictions caused by the ongoing World War II.
In 1944, Cramerton won 28-26 at St. Pauls, a town about 20 miles south of Fayetteville in front of a crowd of only St. Pauls fans since gas rations limited Cramerton’s travelling party to two cars.
In 1945, Cramerton won more convincingly, 43-22 over Red Oak, at its home gymnasium that was part of Cramerton mill owner Stuart Cramer’s recreation complex.
Coached by the legendary Jack Huss, the Eagles competed in the Little Eight Conference that included Belmont, Bessemer City, Dallas, Lowell, Mount Holly, Stanley and Tryon high schools.
At the Abbey, Reece most notably was a member of the Crusaders’ 1949 Carolinas Junior College basketball championship team.