By Deb Silverthorn
No mere candles and cake for Eunice Harris Reiter’s 83rd birthday — the Dallas native and Houston area retired accountant jumped out of an airplane in a once-in-a-lifetime skydiving lark.
“Where my partner Fernando went, I went,” Reiter said of the professional instructor from Skydive Spaceland in Rosharon, near Houston. “We jumped from 14,000-feet and, at 6,000 feet, I pulled the parachute cord, and we were literally floating. It was absolutely incredible,” said Reiter of her jaunt among the clouds while connected to her instructor. “The ground comes up to meet you in a blink but it wasn’t scary — not at all.”
Reiter belatedly celebrated her 83rd birthday alongside friends Betty Baitland and Sue Hauenstein, who was celebrating her own 70th birthday. Always up for an adventure, Reiter thought it would be a fun thing to experience with her friends. The trio jumped to free-fall at 120 miles an hour.
That the flight was delayed for four hours due to rain, didn’t concern anyone, except maybe Reiter’s sister Tanya Meyers of Dallas, who watched Eunice parachute from the airplane’s door to the earth’s floor. The two had seen each other only a few times in the previous 16 months and, as they always do, they laughed through much of their time together.
“My sister was cool as a cucumber; there was no discouraging her,” said Meyers, who was texting reports of the day to Reiter’s children. “We celebrated by going out to dinner, making a toast over root beer and burgers, and it was the best root beer and burgers — the best time together is whatever time we have together. I’m just glad she landed, and it was all good.”
Fernando Rodriguez, the instructor who accompanied Reiter on the jump, said: “Mrs. Reiter was a super nice person, very polite and kind, and I really loved being able to share that experience with her. I love to see people of all ages jumping, especially the more senior ones. As we grow, our fears grow so making the special decision to jump, it has more merit.”
Reiter, the daughter of Pearl and Teddy Harris of blessed memory, and sister of Tanya and Rita Melman, has made the Houston area her home for 64 years, Missouri City for most of those. She remains connected to Dallas family and friends. She grew up at Congregation Shearith Israel; she was an active member of Reba Wadel B’nai B’rith Girls and a graduate of Sunset High School.
After attending University of Texas at Austin, Reiter began her career in public accounting and started her own private practice, a career from which she retired only last fall.
It was at Houston’s Jewish Community Center that she first met Karl Reiter, who would propose after Shabbat services at Congregation Emanu El on their second date. It took Eunice a week to say “yes,” but she did and the couple, who wed at Shearith Israel, were married for 58 years before he passed away in 2014.
The Reiter family, members of Houston’s Brith Shalom and Congregation Beth El of Missouri City for many years, has grown to include their children Sheila (Jeff Wueste), Joe (Wendy) and Elaine (Alan Berger), and grandchildren Leah Berger and Arielle and Joshua Reiter.
“Karl was an incredible guy and you couldn’t help but love him,” Reiter said of her husband, who was a marine surveyor and salvage diver. “We had a great ride.”
Reiter has served in a variety of roles in her volunteer life. Recently appointed to Missouri City’s newly formed Arts Commission, she also served five years on the Missouri City Planning and Zoning Commission, 15 years on Missouri City’s City Council and 22 years on the Community Development Advisory Committee. She was president of her own community’s homeowners association for eight terms, and regional board member and chapter past-president of her local Hadassah chapter.
“I was involved in a number of projects which have shown incredible growth and development, really the areas thriving over the years,” said Reiter, proud of many of her and her colleagues’ accomplishments including the growth of the Sienna Plantation residential development with homes, parks, retail, lakes and more.
“I’ve had a lot of incredible experiences and adventures in life — with family, professionally and throughout my community, and I’ve had a fantastic life,” said Eunice. “This time in the sky, the wind in my face, was something else.”