Obituary: Reginald Harold Degree, 1954-2023 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Reginald Harold Degree, 1954-2023

Passionate fan of baseball and music carved a unique path, making all who met him grateful that they had

Published January 22, 2024 at 6:00 a.m.
Updated January 22, 2024 at 7:44 a.m.

Reggie Degree - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Reggie Degree

Reginald Harold Degree was one of 269,900 babies born on Earth on Friday, November 5, 1954.

Reg — or Reggie, as the family called him — was the first of six kids brought into this world by Gladys and Harold. Being the oldest child in a family is never easy, especially when there are five that come after. It can make a kid feel a little insignificant after child No. 3 or 4 are born, but Reggie found his way to stand out and slowly carve his own unique path.

He played Little League and found his passion for baseball and his beloved Baltimore Orioles. His love and commitment grew expeditiously. As a teenager, he would play Sports Illustrated baseball, and he could be heard from a room away announcing the play-by-play like he was calling game seven of the World Series. That always made us smile.

His influence didn’t stop with sports.

Sitting in front of the black-and-white television on the night of February 7, 1964, Reggie fell in love with the Beatles and rock and roll. When everyone else was still listening to AM radio and pop singles, Reggie was listening to the FM stations and album rock, B-sides and deep cuts. He was carving another path. His curiosity and appreciation sowed the seeds for us all to have an open palette of musical colors to appreciate, love and share.

Reggie was a good brother who shared his interests and guidance and helped his younger siblings hone their talents and passions.

Around his 18th birthday, he met Valory, the love of his life. They shared all the best qualities with each other. She helped him carve another uncut path, his faith. Reggie joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and started building relationships with young people, which have been the foundations of many great futures and ongoing respect and love.

Reggie would gather neighborhood kids and some folks from the church, and we would play basketball every Friday night at the Merrills’ home in Williston. Along with his brother Kenny, he built Kino Memorial Park, a Wiffle ball park in Colchester Village, named for the local dog who would frequent the diamond. There, rival neighborhoods would play competitive games against one another. To this day, that is a formative memory of many of our childhoods.

The gears of life had not quite lined up for Valory and Reg, and they parted ways. Reg continued to move, carve and make all who met him grateful that they had. From working at Maynard’s Auto Supply to playing competitive softball, reading, and spending time with friends and family, Reggie kept a smile on his face and on those around him.

Reggie’s nieces and nephews held a special spark in his heart. Every Christmas, Reggie would hand out presents and would be surrounded by the love of his nieces and nephews. It was his genuine, childlike love that the kids not only related to but also cherished.

Someone said if you give enough to others that God will give back to you.

After sitting for years on the hard cement seats at Centennial Field, rooting for his local minor league baseball team in Burlington, Vt., Reggie was given the opportunity to be the color commentator for that same team. It was like he was a kid again, back in his bedroom calling those games. He finally had captured one of his dreams, and he was good at it.

When Harold and Gladys celebrated their 50th anniversary, Valory reached out to send her love to them on their special day, and it wasn’t long before Reg and Valory reconnected. Val was dealing with the grief and sadness of losing her first husband, and Reg was there for her and the kids through it all — long walks down the village sidewalk with headphones on, talking on the phone for hours with Valory.

The gears finally aligned on April 18, 2006, when he was married to the love of his life and had a family. I am not sure anyone can remember seeing Reggie happier.

Reggie moved to California with Val, and for the past 17 years he has been carving more paths, sharing his special kind of encouraging love and respect with his newfound friends, loved ones and protégés.

Great story, right?

It is.
It was.
And it always will be.

Reginald Harold Degree passed on October 26, 2023, surrounded with love, embraced by family.

He leaves the love of his life, Valory Degree; her two children, John and Anne Beaudoin; his father, Harold; five siblings; his dear nieces and nephews; and many, many, more. He was predeceased by Gladys, his beloved mother.

He is missed.

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