Gary is learning to be a father of two, but his career aspirations continue to pull at him. Gary is ready to leave WRAU and begins applying for jobs around ’82. He flies to Chicago for a potential position and there first meets Tom Kelbs. Gary is verbally offered the job in Chicago and accepts, but the offer is later rescinded. Continuing his job search, Gary gets a call from KHOU in Houston, where he accepts a position as Executive Producer. This begins a brief period of frequent moves for the family, and Houston is stop number one. Gary leaves for Houston prior to the rest of the family to begin work.
Kathleen gets the Normal house in shape and sells the house. She and the two boys drive up to Grayslake for a Boesch family visit prior to heading to O’Hare to depart for Houston. On the morning of departure, Kathleen sees her youngest sister Julie on the couch and asks her “what are you going to do with your life?” Receiving no firm answer, Kathleen tells Julie to get her suitcase. Gary has no idea Julie is coming to live with him and his family until he picks everyone up at the airport. Surprise.
Tom Kelbs coincidentally becomes news director at KHOU a short time later. Tom loses his job and moves on to Cincinnati at WLWT. Gary enjoys his time working a KHOU; it was fair to say that Houston had more news and more interesting news than a place like Peoria. But like most jobs in news, things change quickly, and Gary is asked to change stations to Tulsa. When he declines, he is let go. Gary reconnects with Tom Kelbs at WLWT and the family moves to Cincinnati in September of ‘85. Julie remains in Houston, now involved in a serious relationship with a native Texan name Sammy. It is said that they are still dating today.
The family enjoys watching the Bears win the Superbowl in early 1986, starting many years of watching Bears games together. Once again, Tom Kelbs loses his job, leaving Gary in Cincinnati. And once again, as was common in TV news, Gary needs to find a new job as well. Gary is hired by KSTP in Minneapolis, and the family makes their final move to Minnesota. New city, same story; another change in News Director, and once again, Gary was out. After moving the family three times in 5 years, Gary decides he is done with news. An average day for him was leaving at 7 AM or earlier and getting home between 7 and 10 PM, sometimes on weekends as well.
For the first time in his professional life, Gary is not sure what is next. He had become accustomed to being the overachiever; being the star. Finding a job in a new profession became challenging at that time. Working for himself proves to be the best path, and he finds a new profession by becoming a freelance writer.
King of Christmas
During our time in Houston, the Christmases the family had there were lavish. Nate recalled one Christmas morning coming down the steps and seeing presents spread far and wide. Even as a young child, his reaction was “sheesh Dad, isn’t that a little excessive?” (the boys didn’t really mind)
In Cincinnati, Gary poured himself into his job again – but also continued his sterling reputation as ‘the guy who can get things’ during Christmas. The boys were mutually obsessed with Laser Tag – but those were really hard to get (unless you were Gary Reagen). One year, in order to get a coveted video game, he waited outside the delivery dock of a store when the shipment came in; just so he could ensure he got it. We can still clearly remember that “little kid” Christmas excitement opening those gifts. And Gary loved it. He just so thoroughly enjoyed giving us gifts at Christmastime. He spoiled us royally.
Gary spent his spare time playing games with his sons, watching the Bears falter, the Bulls win their championships, and Mike Tyson just dominate. His boys especially learned to play both basketball and Hearts quite a bit with their father during this time.
(from Josh) Dad had a presence to him, you could feel his personality enter the room. Many of my first memories with him involve riding in one of the old cars together and the light smell of whatever cough drops he was into at the time. Listening to what are now the classic songs of the 80’s, he’d let me move the stick shift as he pressed the clutch. He maintained that presence throughout the years; people were sort of drawn to him and the impression he made on them remained. I was no different.
(from Nate) As I grew to a young man in High School, the “Dad lectures” began. While these were not easy to be a part of at the time, I truly think these helped shaped me as I learned to become a man. Too many themes to recap here, but one he pushed often was to be a person of character. A person of integrity. More of what my Dad taught me can be found on this page.