Ms. Gwendolyn (Gwen) Janet Reddeck, 84, resident of High Point, died May 7, 2018 at her home. Gwen was born July 13, 1933 in Guilford County, a daughter of Ralph J. and Clyde Snider Reddeck. As a child, she grew up in the Oak Hill Forest Community. Her environment was one close to nature, and though it may not have been the most appropriate thing to do, she climbed trees, swung on limbs, drew circles and competed with her older brother ‘shooting marbles’ and dodging balls. She also jumped rope and drew hop-scotch blocks. Her natural athleticism was evident when she began her school years. Her favorite class was ‘recess’, where she played ring-around-the roses and dodgeball with her classmates. On beautiful spring days, her teachers often caught her looking out the window instead of studying the words on the page before her. Keep in mind…..most sports activities were not appropriate for young ladies in this day and time.
As she progressed to junior high school (grades 7-9), she was introduced to the curriculum, physical education. She fell in love and held that love close to her heart for almost eighty years. She seized the opportunity to compete in what was called the intramural program offered during the activity program. She knew only that this gave her an opportunity to show her skills by playing against and with her classmates. Here, she learned volleyball and basketball. There was also an after-school program which offered an organized approach to softball, basketball, soccer and volleyball. She played most positions in all four sports.
Gwen continued to participate and enjoyed ‘her sports’ throughout her high school career, playing on the varsity teams and achieving and outstanding record. When she graduated in 1951, she was voted the BEST FEMALE ATHLETE SUPERLATIVE. In the same year, High Point Central won the State Championship, with her help, in soccer. The crowing year for Gwen was 1951. For the first time ever, North Carolina held the All-State-Playday. In the softball competition, she threw the softball for a distance that was not equaled for more than two decades. Also, demonstrating her leadership qualities, she was elected president of the Girls Athletic Association, no small honor in itself.
Gwen was not so near-sighted that her interest ended with the softball season. One of her greatest passions is, and has always been, music. She showed her athletic powers by marching long hours and many miles with the HPHS Marching Band, while playing the clarinet. Her music career climaxed during her senior year when she was selected to play First Chair Oboe and performed in the All State Orchestra Competition. It was during this performance that her grit and tenacity were demonstrated. Playing the oboe is no easy task. Much is required of lip manipulation. Using the double-reed caused her to bite so hard while playing that her upper lip literally bled. The director told her to put paper on her teeth and keep playing. Being the only oboe player, she put paper on her teeth and kept playing.
In the fall of 1951, Gwen entered High Point College (now High Point University). She completed her academic work in three years, graduating in the spring of 1954. During her college career, it was necessary for her to work fulltime in order to meet her financial obligations. While matriculating at High Point College, she was a member of the WAA (Women’s Athletic Association) for three years and president of this organization her senior year. The WAA planned most of the sports activities for High Point College women students which included basketball, volleyball, softball, tennis and speed ball. The college was fortunate to have a very strong intramural program and there was wide participation among both women’s and men’s organizations. Along with her athletic participation, she was active by serving on the business staff of the High Point College newspaper, the Future Teacher of America, and the Sigma Alpha Phi sorority.
Gwen graduated from High Point College in 1954 and began her teaching career at Gastonia Jr. High School where she taught health and physical education. She later journeyed to Tampa, FL (Hillsborough County), where she continued to pursue the love of her life, teaching physical education. In her mind, the most significant aspect of her career in Florida was her development of an Adaptive Physical Education program for physically handicapped students which she also taught. This was a ‘cutting edge’ activity in 1958-1959. Fortunately for her, her students and their parents, it was a resounding success. In her words, “Though I had misgivings about such a class and limited training, this was probably one of the most rewarding experiences of my career.” Physical education teachers from some two hundred schools in surrounding areas were invited to observe and evaluate the program.
Returning to North Carolina in the summer of 1959 (due both to family illness and start of her master’s degree pursuit at UNC), she found herself unemployed. As luck and good fortune would have it, she heard that Guilford College was ‘looking for a female instructor’ in its P.E. program and someone who would concurrently serve as Director of Social and Recreational Activities. Although, by now, she had already accepted a position at Northeast Jr. High School in High Point, she was hired in the fall of 1959 by Dr. Clyde Milner, President of Guilford College. She spent the next forty years doing ‘some of everything’. During her career here she served as instructor and department head of the women’s Physical Education Department. She later transferred full-time to the Department of Education Studies.
While serving in the P.E. Department, she taught theory courses primarily to the male students, to whom she highly recommended shaving before taping, and health and physical education activities, as well as coaching, for the women. She proved to be a forerunner in many areas by developing and implementing courses in fencing, trampoline and gymnastics. She designed and persuaded the maintenance department to construct a balance beam, the first in the area. Not least among her accomplishments was her implementing a women’s basketball team (women didn’t do that then). She coached the newly developed team, and, for the first time in this area, women played other women’s college teams.
As chair of the department, her responsibilities included a broad range of activities; chief among these were May Day in the spring and Homecoming in the fall. These responsibilities also included the selection of the Homecoming Queen, lining up the parade, bag pipes, etc. During this time, she served as faculty sponsor of the WAA, served as a member of the Honor Board; and, at times, served as department chair of the Education Studies Department.
Reviewing her long, productive and satisfying career as athlete, coach and administrator, Gwen concluded her crowning jewel was conceiving, developing and convincing the faculty and administration that Guilford College female students deserved the opportunity to major and to be certified in women’s physical education in 1967-1968.
Surviving is her friend, Alwayne McClure of High Point; a niece, Kim Reddeck of Winston-Salem; a nephew, Keith Reddeck and wife Dawne of Ft. Mills; two adopted nieces, Rebecca Creasey of Trinity and Jean Chandler and husband Weldon of Greensboro; a great niece, Nikki Taylor; and two great nephews, Preston and Griffin Reddeck
A memorial service will be held at 1:00 p.m. Thursday at Deep River Friends Meeting with Pastor John Sides officiating. Visitation will be held one hour prior to the service at the Meeting. Interment will immediately follow the service in the Meeting cemetery. Memorials may be directed to Deep River Friends Meeting, c/o the Meeting Education Fund, 5300 W. Wendover Ave. High Point, NC, 27265.
Deep River Friends Meeting Education Fund
5300 W. Wendover Ave., High Point NC 27265