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Remembering Rick Reeves
February 26, 2017
Born Estherville, Iowa, September 7, 1936
Departed Plainfield, Iowa, February 21, 2017
If you ever attended SOAR or a spinning conference, you more than likely met Rick Reeves demonstrating and schmoozing with spinners. Rick, tall and lanky, with a ready smile and chuckle, delighted in showing his latest wheels. He had both the craftsman’s touch and the salesman’s savvy which he honed into a successful business in a niche market.
Rick Reeves, a machinist looking for a hobby to enjoy at home, began turning wooden objects from goblets to table legs. He started in the spinning wheel business quite by chance in the mid 1960’s when a spinner stopped by one day and asked him if he could repair her wheel. Rick was intrigued and began researching wheels and then applied his machinist and woodworking expertise to create beautifully designed and efficient spinning wheels.
By 1975, the hobby had grown into a business. Marge joined in as the business manager and finisher. To acquire more space, they moved to the Amana Colonies where they leased a production area and showroom. The couple moved the shop again in 1980, away from the tourists at the Amana Colonies to a production facility free from distractions. In 1997, they sold the business to Stuhr Enterpises which closed shortly thereafter.
It was then that Barry Schacht approached Marge and Rick about a partnership to continue the Reeves legacy. Barry had always admired the balance between the mechanical operation and the aesthetic of the Reeves spinning wheels.
Schacht and the Reeves worked together to develop the Schacht-Reeves 24” and 30” Saxony wheels. The challenge was to take a custom made wheel and tweak it for the production woodworking methods of Schacht. Marge and Rick made a trip to Boulder to help fine tune the final design and share their knowledge with the Schacht development staff.
In the winter 2004 issue of Spin-Off, Rick commented on his involvement in the spinning wheel business, “I can’t think of another industry that we could have been involved in that would have been more pleasurable. We had no bad experiences and our customers were our family. It was not a business; it was a way of life.”
This rings true. The spinning world is like a family, and making things, whether spinning wheels or yarn, becomes a way of life and a place to be. We will miss this fine man.