Ben Reed, who lives on a farm outside of Lamar, has always liked a good story.

It was something he and his son Brad had in common.  Brad Reed, who died of cancer in 2010 at age 36, graduated from Lamar High School and Missouri Southern State University.  After his death, his father, friends and family members worked with the Missouri Southern Foundation to endow a new scholarship in his name.

Ben Reed’s storytelling will now add valuable funds to that scholarship.  He has written a book titled Truth with Stretch Marks. All profits from the book will be added to the Brad Reed scholarship, which will be awarded to non-traditional students who also are graduates of Lamar High School. The first recipient is expected to be awarded in the near future.

“It’s an accumulation of humorous short stories,” Ben Reed says. “I used to send stories to the local paper and they would print them. Brad would say, ‘You need to put them in a book.'”

The elder Reed says Brad kept the subject alive even after he moved to Atlanta, Georgia to serve as Director for National Transportation  Programs for AmeriCold, Inc.

“He would call every weekend and ask about the book of funny stories.  I didn’t have any intention of doing it.  Then he got cancer and fought that battle for 18 months and finally passed away. A year or two later, my granddaughter called me trying to sell Girl Scout cookies.  At the end of the conversation, she asked how the book of funny stories was coming along.”

The comment led Ben to get work on a project that had been a long time coming.

“I made a deal with my son’s two daughters – Olivia, who is eleven, and Chloe, who is seven.  I said I would write the book, illustrate the book, even pay for the book, but they would have to help me sell it.”

All the proceeds from the sale of the book go to the Brad Reed scholarship.  At this point, Reed says about 400 books have been sold for $10 each.

“They can say no to me but who can say no to a little red-headed girl?” Reed asks with a laugh.

In addition to writing the book, Ben Reed created 45 illustrations, including the cover.

For many years, Reed has worked as District Manager for the Soil & Water Conversation District.  He says the book uses the same conversational tone he has used with county residents over the years.

“I tried to write it like I talk.  If I say I was running, I spell it ‘runnin’ not ‘running.’  Words are there that aren’t even words.”  He says he doesn’t consider himself an author or an artist and, prior to writing Truth with Stretch Marks, he “didn’t even know how to write a book.”

Reed says he has stressed to his granddaughters that the Brad Reed Scholarship will allow their father to make a positive change in the lives of students, now and even many years after his death.

The book is currently on sale at the Lamar Democrat and at Tractor’s BBQ in Lamar. More book signing and book sales are planned for the future.

Brad was married to married Bethaney Ann Shields, also is a graduate of MSSU. Olivia and Chloe have a brother, 15-year-old Benton.

Brad’s mother is Marianne Reed of Lamar.

Ben says Brad, although not in the habit of putting stories into writing, shared some personality traits with him.

“Brad liked a good joke, like a good story, and liked to laugh,” he says.

Donations to the Brad Reed Endowed Scholarship can be made by purchasing Truth with Stretch Marks, as well as online at www.mssu.edu/giving.

For more information, contact Michael Fontana, Development Officer, Missouri Southern Foundation, at (417) 659-4436 or email fontana-m@mssu.edu.