Mineral Wells Area News

Family says reunion after 23 years is divine intervention

Family says reunion after 23 years is divine intervention
May 19
08:48 2022

By Ann Powers

Thanks to a little genealogy, social media and a lot of love, siblings Reggie Murphy and Jeremiah Houston believe their recent reunion after a separation spanning more than two decades is nothing short of, “a God thing.”

Jeremiah Houston and his brother Reggie Murphy reunite after 23 years. Photo courtesy Jeremiah Houston.

This story begins in the early 1980s when Jeremiah left his hometown of Hugo, Oklahoma after graduating high school to join the army in California. His mother, Josephine Murphy, gave birth to his half-brother, Reggie, while he was away. When Josephine became ill, she was no longer able to care for Reggie who was born paraplegic. She entrusted him to her cousin, Irene Smith, in Plano, Texas.

Josephine died shortly after and Jeremiah believed his brother was in good hands with Irene. However, Irene was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and, unbeknownst to Jeremiah as well as other family members, Reggie was placed in foster care in Mineral Wells.

When Jeremiah visited family in Oklahoma in 1996, he discovered his little brother was no longer with Irene. Because of her bipolar, family members said she couldn’t remember what happened to Reggie before she passed away.

Jeremiah was able to track Reggie down in 1999 and contacted him in Mineral Wells. However, the two lost track of each other after that.

“You know, life happens,” said Jeremiah. “Since 1999, I had never stopped wanting to see him again. I never forgot and I never gave up.”

Reggie stayed with foster care until he was 21 years old. From there, he lived independently for a while and eventually moved into ResCare Community Living in San Angelo in 2018. He never heard from family or friends, because they simply didn’t know how to reach him and vice versa, he explained.

“I knew my brother was out there,” said Reggie. “I was just waiting and wondering if I would ever see him again.”

Enter Marion Houston, Jeremiah’s wife. Currently living in Indiana, the couple married in 2019 and Marion got busy trying to locate Reggie.

“My husband was like, what happened to my brother? Where is he?” she recalled.

Josephine Murphy (right) and her friend Susie Snell (left)
Photo courtesy Marion Houston

Marion, a software program trainer, admitted the search didn’t go smoothly at first. She asked a lot of questions, reached out to family members and poured through Facebook and online people searches – with no luck.

Then a coworker with a pension for genealogy got involved. Marion said her colleague took the search to ancestory.com and located numerous records leading to Reggie’s whereabouts. She found a Facebook page matching his profile and informed the Houston’s.

Marion reached out to Reggie on social media, asking him about his birth date, his mother’s name and if he was the long-lost brother they’ve been looking for. At first, she didn’t hear back. She later found out that was because Reggie’s computer was broken. But then, she got a response and it was indeed the Reggie they had been desperately searching for over the years.

“I just cried and said thank you Jesus!” Marion stated. “It has been a real tearjerker to say the least and it’s wonderful to finally have found him. That’s a chance of a lifetime that nothing bad happened and he’s okay. It’s just like a miracle.”

Reggie and Jeremiah reunited earlier this month in San Angelo for the first time in 23 years. In addition to the miracle aspect, Jeremiah gives credit to his wife for making it all happen.

“This is her hard work,” he said. “I mean, man, do I love my wife!”
He also said traveling to visit his brother came together way too conveniently to just chalk it up to coincidence.

“Everything just happened and came into place without having to do anything extra,” explained Jeremiah. “We had a trip planned for Las Vegas and my wife had to be in Texas for her job when we found (Reggie). So, we were going to be out here anyway.”

“It’s a God thing,” added Reggie. “Because, God let me know if I think about my brother, he’ll be here. And, now he’s here and we can reconnect, share stories and do what brothers do.”

Not only what brothers do, but also what cousins do, what uncles do and what family friends do. Jeremiah and Marion plan on returning to San Angelo in July, along with approximately 50 family members and close friends, to vacation with Reggie.

“It feels good and it puts a smile on my face,” Reggie said. “It’s been a long time and it’s just good to know there is someone out there. God works in mysterious ways and that’s a beautiful thing.”

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