Reggie Munday’s Candy Ministry

Reggie Munday keeps two things close at hand, Werther’s candies, and his wife, Brenda.

By Susan Shinn Turner

Ask Reggie Munday how he became the Candy Man, and you’ll get this answer: “It’s a long story.”

It’s OK, Reggie, we’ve got plenty of time.

“Let me take you back a few years,” Reggie says, “to 1963.”

Reggie had just begun a new career with Jefferson-Pilot Life Insurance Co. He gave chewing gum to neighborhood kids — always Juicy Fruit, he says — and that soon carried over to other areas.

One Valentine’s Day, he was out of town, and mailed his wife and three children cards. Each had a stick of gum and a dollar bill. That started a 50-year tradition.

Reggie came to Salisbury as a district manager with Jefferson-Pilot. He had four secretaries at offices here, as well as Albemarle, Statesville, and Lexington. He asked for the names of all of his employees’ children and their dates of birth. He’d send birthday cards to the kids — with a stick of Juicy Fruit — and anniversary cards to the employees.

“They felt like they knew me,” he says, “and the men who worked for me appreciated it.”

He did the same thing when he was transferred to Asheville. He retired from Jefferson-Pilot in 1996 and returned to Salisbury. He and his first wife, Betty, became members of St. John’s in 1999. By then, he was giving out Juicy Fruit and Big Red.

Betty died in 2012, and Reggie returned to church soon after her death.

“Pastor Jan and I were talking one Sunday, and a young lady walked up named Brenda,” Reggie says. “Pastor Jan said, why don’t you sit together?”

The next Sunday, Brenda Cesario walked up and asked, “May I sit with you?”

Reggie and Brenda continued to sit together. Her husband, Doug, had died in 2011.

After that, Brenda and the late Clancy Bostian facilitated a GriefShare group at St. John’s. Clancy had lost two children. Reggie became a part of the group, along with Norman Sloop and the late Roy Snider.

Reggie and Brenda started going to Wednesday night dinner together after GriefShare as part of the group.

Eventually, Reggie asked Brenda out to lunch after the Sunday service, but she always seemed to have things to do, he says. Then one Sunday, she said, “Let’s go to the Farmhouse.”

After that, Brenda invited Reggie to brunch and her house — with her grandson and his wife as their chaperones.

Everyone looks forward to seeing Reggie Munday each Sunday. He gives out Werther’s candy, and a smile, to everyone he meets.

Reggie noticed that Brenda had a candy dish full of Werther’s hard candies — so that started Reggie’s tradition of passing out Werther’s candy every Sunday at the 11 am worship service.

Reggie and Brenda got married on Oct. 5, 2013, the day before Reggie’s birthday. And guess what Pastor Rhodes gave him that special day? You’re right, a piece of Werther’s.

Reggie got by for awhile buying small bags of candy, he says. “Then my franchise started growing.”

Reggie always made sure he gave ladies at church a piece of candy. But then he started noticing men glancing his way, so now he gives it to everybody he sees.

Brenda orders Werther’s by the case from Amazon, with an automatic reorder every six weeks.

It seems a small price to pay.

“The smiles I get back!” Reggie says. “A smile is a gift. They see me and they smile. It’s just a joy. I feel like it’s part of me.”

“It’s a lot of fun and Reggie enjoys it so much,” Brenda says.

Reggie has taken to wearing suspenders with his belt because his pants pockets are so crammed full of candy, she says. But no matter what, he always holds two pieces back for each of the pastors and for Rob Durocher, minister of music and deacon. He in turn shares them with his grandson, Balian Witt, who calls Reggie “Pastor Reg.”

“It’s been a real good blessing for me,” Reggie says.

And a sweet one at that.