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Jerry ReshewOur small scale live steam world lost a legend of the community on June 23, 2017. Jerry Reshew, founder of the International Small Scale Steamup and Arts Festival as it came to be known in its latest incarnation, left our earthly presence to join his wife Charlotte in the great beyond.  Jerry will be dearly missed as the loss of his presence at the steamup known to most simply as “Diamondhead” makes our ranks a bit smaller.

Jerry’s personal history in the area of Diamondhead, Mississippi goes back many years as the Director of the Navy’s Oceanographic Offices in nearby Bay St.Louis. It was under Jerry’s management and directorship skills that he created more jobs in the area when the Navy decided to close down the aging offices of Bay St. Louis, by lobbying for the new offices to be opened at nearby Stennis Airfield. This act made Jerry a local hero, a title well deserved.

Jerry’s local activities weren’t limited to his government duties. He and his wife Charlotte embraced the southern lifestyle and Mardi Gras way of life becoming regular supporters of the local Mardi Gras crewe – and becoming the King and Queen of the festival one season. It is through these Mardi Gras activities that many charitable fund raising events for local needs were accomplished.

In 1992 Jerry attended the National Garden Railway Convention held in Reston, Virginia, hosted by the Washington, Virginia and Maryland Garden Railway Society.  The WVMGRS at that time had many live steam members and sought to increase the live steam presence at the convention to beyond the Sunday Steamup by adding a track that would be available for many more hours during the convention. Local fire marshals were skeptical of this aspect of the garden railroading hobby and forced the host society to set up the track on the top floor of the parking lot structure.  Local weather during the convention was typical heat and high humidity for a July venue in Virginia and the reflective nature of the concrete didn’t help the situation.  Jerry always commented that he felt as though the live steamers were being treated unfairly and it was this event that cemented his drive to have a steamup in a more “civilized” manner.
Jerry immediately went to work to pull together the first “National Small Scale Steamup for January 1993.  In a quick six months’ time, the first of many live steamers that would seek winter-time refuge in the south to run trains began. The venue grew and started to bring in attendees from all over the world that it was renamed to the International Small Scale Steamup. 

The Diamondhead steamup soon took on a life of its own as the other hobbies of attendees came to light. There were juggling demonstrations, crafts available for those who needed a respite from model trains, and musicians. All of this happened because of the welcoming southern hospitality that brought out the creative nature of the attendees. Jerry welcomed all of these extra-curricular activities and even became a member of the brass band that served the steamup for ten years.
Jerry was a well versed live steamer whose council was sought out by model manufacturers. His careful scrutiny of new models and technical feedback helped to provide the best in quality models for the hobby.  The Diamondhead steamup became a key activity whereby new models would make their debut to the world.

In September of 2005 hurricane Katrina made landfall and the Bay St. Louis/Diamondhead area was devastated.  The 2006 steamup would have to be dark for that year as the host hotel was unavailable.  What few rooms they did have that weren’t destroyed by the hurricane were needed to house crews trying to rebuild in the area. In anticipation of the 2006 event Jerry had already invested in t-shirts and other memorabilia that was always made available for steamers who attended. Undaunted by this, Jerry packed up the t-shirts and brought them to the annual January Cabin Fever Model Engineering Expo held in York, Pennsylvania and gave them away.  How fitting it was that Jerry had picked a black t-shirt for an event that would have to wait another year until repairs would allow the return to Diamondhead.

Jerry loved to travel and he attended steamups all over the United States and the World. A long-time member of the Gauge One Model Railroading Association (G1MRA), Jerry was always welcomed with open arms to the steam activities in England. Jerry was an avid fan of British Rail which was the focus of the majority of his live steam collection.
Jerry was well aware of his age and abilities with respect to pulling off the Diamondhead steamup. At the twenty year mark of his stewardship, his volunteers and grown but he knew that if the steamup was to continue he would need to pass on the chairmanship. Jerry held a steamup at his home in Diamondhead with the local steamers who attended the Diamondhead venue and they formed the Bayou Live Steamers. Jerry passed the baton and took on a less rigorous “Chairman Emeritus” role. He continued to actively support the steamup in this role and continued to give the opening welcoming speech to those in attendance. Of all of the parts of the steamup where he will be missed the most, it is in that function whereby his smile and gentile nature would shine the most to greet us to Diamondhead.

To say that Jerry will be missed is an understatement. He brought joy and fellowship to the hobby and is well deserving of the title as a Legend of small scale live steam.