Reedy & Sykes legacy reflects faces of community

By Bob Robinson
Star Staff

   Most people leave footprints in the sands of time. The legacy of others may be reflected in structures built for future generations.
   Such is the case with Robert Reedy, Steve Sykes, Joey White and Kim Ornduff, who are leaving their indelible mark on Elizabethton and Carter County.
   All are architects and graduates of the University of Tennessee (U-T) School of Architecture. They do the critical, behind the scenes work -- architectural and design services -- for future construction projects.
   Today, results of their handiwork dot the landscape throughout Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia and Western North Carolina.
   It all began in 1971 when Robert and Steve were second quarter freshmen at U-T. They were introduced by a mutual acquaintance while living in Hess Hall dormitory.
   Robert is the son of Pauline and the late Earl Reedy of Kingsport.
   Earl, a restaurant owner, moved the family from Clintwood, Va., to Kingsport in the 1920s to work at Eastman.
   Earl also did contract work and built houses. This sparked Robert's interest in architecture. "While I was in the eighth grade, I used to draw house plans for him," Robert said.
   Robert's mother, who still lives in Kingsport, celebrates her 83rd birthday on Feb. 7. His father passed away in 1998 at age 84. "He lived a good, long life," Robert said.
   Steve is the son of George and Velma Sykes, West G Street, Elizabethton.
   George moved around a lot with TVA before he and Velma retired in Elizabethton, "one of their favorite places to live," according to Steve. George was superintendent of TVA's hydroelectric plants in Northeast Tennessee.
   Robert and Steve moved into an apartment their junior year and completed graduation requirements for U-T's five-year architectural degree program in 1976.
   The two went their separate ways after graduation.
   Steve remained in Knoxville doing residential design contract work.
   Robert joined the architectural engineering firm of Price, Rothe, Muse, located at Tri-Cities Airport. The firm no longer exists today but the partners still work in the area, Robert said.
   In 1981, Robert received his architect's license and, thereafter, began discussing with Steve the possibility of forming a partnership.
   Their ensuing friendship, plus a U-T degree in architecture, led the two to form Reedy & Sykes Architects and Design.
   On Sept. 6, 1983, Reedy & Sykes opened for business in a 700-square foot building at Hattie Avenue and Sycamore Street. In 1987, the firm was forced to move their office to allow the new Elizabethton City Hall to be built on the site.
   Today, Reedy & Sykes is located at 613 E. Elk Ave., Elizabethton, in a 2500-square foot building.
   Joey White joined the firm in 1985, followed by Kim Ornduff of Elizabethton in 1994. Joey's wife is a librarian at the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library. Both Joey and Kim also received a degree in architecture from U-T.
   In the past 18 years, the firm has completed a variety of architectural and design projects for commercial, industrial, residential, government, education and church clients.
   From the day the firm opened, Reedy & Sykes has been giving back to the community by donating or reducing fees for architectural and design services on community projects.
   Examples of two gratis projects are the design of the Holston Habitat for Humanity House and proposed Veterans War Memorial Park to be built at Pine Street and Elk Avenue in downtown Elizabethton.
   Among other Reedy & Sykes projects are:
   Elizabethton City Hall; Elizabethton Public Library; new courtroom at Carter County Courthouse; Carter County Health Department Truman Clark Annex; Roan Mountain State Park Visitors Center and Administration Building; Tennessee Vocational Training Center; classrooms at Valley Forge and Hunter Elementary Schools; and renovations and additions at the Elizabethton, Carter County Chamber of Commerce and historic train site.
   Robert said one of the most challenging and rewarding projects, from a customer satisfaction standpoint, was the rebuilding of Central Church of Christ.
   "After a heavy snow in 1993 caused the roof to collapse, the church was rebuilt on the existing foundation," Robert said.
   Preservation of older homes in Elizabethton, such as the Rhudy House on Hattie Avenue, is another compassion of Reedy & Sykes.
   The most expensive project was the $2.6 million Tennessee Technology Center on Highway 9l across from Elizabethton Municipal Airport, Robert said.
   When he is not working on architectural and design projects for Reedy & Sykes clients, Robert is working for the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce. He is the chamber's new president for 2002.
   "My biggest focus is to encourage more involvement of the total membership in the work of the Chamber," said Robert, who believes Chamber members should put their heart into their membership.
   Robert and his wife, Amy, celebrated their 23rd wedding anniversary in December. They have two sons, Jacob, a first year engineering student at U-T; and Mark, a seventh-grader at John Sevier Middle School in Kingsport. Amy is a teacher assistant in the second grade at Jackson Elementary School in Kingsport.
   Steve is married to the former Elizabeth McPherson of Knoxville.
   Today, the work of Reedy & Sykes reflect the faces and personalities of the community they serve. Their work stands as a tribute in the sands of time for future generations to admire and enjoy.