Services Saturday for educator Eashell Salsberry

By Robert Kenneth Wright

Services will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Miller Funeral Home Chapel for Eashell Reed, a woman who spent her adult life teaching children.

She was 55 years old.

The year she was born, 1965, the nation was filled with political turmoil. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led thousands of protesters from Selma to Montgomery, the Civil Rights Act was later signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Malcolm X was murdered in New York, riots erupted in Watts, California and the costliest hurricane in US History at the time hit the shores of Louisiana as a Category 3 with winds of 110 mph.

While all of these events were taking place around the nation, in south Louisiana a child was born to the union of a Natchez musician and a beautician from Ville Platte. She would live through two deadly hurricanes, witness the election of the first African-American president of the United States, and endure a year of challenge through one of the world’s deadliest viral pandemics. She would live a life of service to her country, to her community, and would ultimately invest many years in educating youth.

Eashell Renee Reed was born on April 10, 1965, in Lafayette, Louisiana. She spent her childhood 35 miles north of Lafayette in the small Evangeline Parish city of Ville Platte. She graduated from Ville Platte High School in 1983 and later matriculated at Grambling State University. At Grambling, she majored in Computer Information Systems. However, she began working with her church’s youth drill team and realized that her calling was working with children. So, she transferred to Southern University A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Returning to South Louisiana, she majored in Education.

Eashell enlisted in the United States Army and became a reservist. Her military occupation specialty was 88N20- Traffic Management Coordinator. As an 88N20, she was responsible for scheduling and selecting the modes of transportation for Army personnel and equipment. She planned, organized, and oversaw the movement of vehicles, personnel, and cargo. Her unit, the 1190th USA DCU in Baton Rouge was mobilized for Operation Desert Shield from August 1990 to June 1991. She was at Southern during this mobilization and her education was temporarily on hold while she was stationed in New York. She was honorably discharged in 1995 as an E-5 Sergeant. For her service, she was awarded the Army Lapel Button, Army Service Ribbon, and the National Defense Service Medal. However, her military experience would surface again later in life as an educator.

In 2002, she was so inspired by the women of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Eashell was inducted into the sorority through the Monroe Alumnae Chapter. She was involved in the community and in her sorority, which boasts the motto “Intelligence is the torch of wisdom.”

Eashell was an educator for 28 years teaching the elementary and secondary levels. Her first school appointment was in St. Landry Parish at Northwest High School. She also taught at Dubach High School before moving to the Monroe area. Eashell was a teacher at the Swanson Center for Youth- Southside Alternative High School. At Swanson, she would carry the discipline learned as an Army Sergeant into the classroom. She would also meet up with the man who would change her name and they would become partners for the rest of her life.

Darcey Salsberry stood a few feet higher than Eashell but she was mesmerized by his charm and over the course of a few years a love affair ensued. She was a teacher and he was a correctional officer. The two would become inseparable and on November 11, 2006, the two would wed and would remain together until her death.

Eashell’s mother Helen Joy Thomas Reed was a beautician. Watching her mother engage in the art of cosmetology would have an effect on her. Along with being a certified teacher, Eashell was also a licensed esthetician and operated her own business for a few years called “Nails by Eashell.”

She held a Bachelors degree in Education from Southern and a Masters +30 in Education from the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Mrs. Salsberry taught at Cypress Point Elementary School and at Minnie Ruffin Elementary School. She had numerous certifications in various areas of education and she was also certified in Special Education and as a secondary principal, although she never worked in administration.

At Minnie Ruffin, she worked under Mrs. Sylvia Brass. She had a unique teaching style and in her classroom, there was order and discipline. She taught social studies and mathematics. She was strict but never harsh. The students had a rigorous daily routine and Ms. Salsberry’s dose of discipline was not only accepted, but it was expected. Her classroom was filled with love and the students knew that she meant well by them. For that, their test scores were always high at the end of the school year. During her last years at Minnie Ruffin, she endured physical ailments from back surgery. She was still destined to work with her students. After physical therapy, she returned to the classroom and Darcey joined her as her assistant. There was not a day she was in class that Darcey was not by her side, assisting her with the operation of her class. The school wanted to reward his contributions but he refused it. Despite his refusal, Darcey was accepted as an honorary teacher, and the staff highly respected his presence on campus.

She was a devout Christian and attended the New Light Baptist Church under the leadership of Rev. James B. Johnson. For a short while, she sang in the choir under Mr. Roosevelt Pine. She was regular in attendance at Sunday School and Wednesday night bible study. Eashell was also the chairperson for the church’s scholarship ministry and a member of the Women Working Together Ministry.

Eashell’s last teaching post was as a Study Skills teacher at Wossman High School. She had hoped for a successful school year despite the COVID demands of 2020. However, ongoing health issues, working through a year of hurricanes, national unrest, and the death of her mother in July, she was not able to return to her post.

She lived a life of service to her country and to her community. Hundreds of students received a quality education in a classroom filled with discipline and love. Despite the pain she endured during the final years of her life, she was committed to her students, to her church, and to her family. She began and ended her life in the midst of national disasters and political turmoil. However, in the midst of the storms, on Monday, November 2, 2020, her service in this life was complete.

She leaves to cherish her memory: Her husband Darcey Salsberry; two sons: Dominique Salsberry and Sir Benjamin Bartie, three step-kids: Darcy Eggins, Shannetta Salsberry, and Darci Saulsberry; two sisters- Beatrice Robert (Dennis) and Shelia Bartie; one brother- Ollie D. Reed. She was preceded in death by her mother Helen Joy Thomas Reed, father Earl William Reed, Jr. and one brother Gregory Reed.