Last Call: Oui Lounge bartender remembered as a philosopher

With patrons abuzz in conversation, beer in hand, and cigarette smoke snaking into a haze above the din, this might appear to be a just another Saturday night at the Oui Lounge, a staple neighborhood hangout in Blue Bonnet Circle. But a familiar face – one with a cowboy hat and a foot-long graying beard – is missing.

Guitarist Bill Hamm and a group of musicians suddenly cease playing.

“Stand up and hoist it up,” a male voice says, as dozens of patrons packed in the bar raise their drink. “To Trent!”

Trent Reid, a 56-year-old man who served as a bartender at the Oui Lounge for half of his life, died from gastrointestinal cancer on March 1, but family and generations of friends said he wouldn’t let it show that he was sick. He was always wrapped up in conversations with patrons.

“It didn’t matter about the age, he treated everybody the same,” said Dana Buntin, manager of the Oui Lounge, who met Reid in 1992. “He would talk about everything and anything. Books, religion, science, everything you can possibly think of. And they’d sit for hours and talk. I’d have to work around all of their conversations.”

He also took care of his colleagues.

“He’s just always been there for me,” Buntin said, tears welling in her eyes.

Reid, who grew up in south Fort Worth, earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from University of Texas at Arlington but chose bartending for a living.

Rick McAdoo, a 1988 graduate in speech-language pathology, met Reid when he started hanging out at the Oui Lounge while at TCU. A Fort Worth resident, McAdoo still frequents the bar.

He said he remembers Reid as a philosopher. When he was in college, McAdoo and his friends would linger after closing time, help clean up the place and then sit at the bar, where they would continue their conversations with Reid, who would discuss politics, religion and literature with them.

“We solved a lot of the world’s problems,” McAdoo said. “It just hasn’t been published yet.”

John Booth, a 1988 graduate in marketing, and Alan Feldman, a TCU alumnus with a certificate of theological studies from Brite Divinity School, both friends of McAdoo in college, said Reid was always ready to talk.

“Trent was very well-read, and he was a huge music fan,” Booth said, adding that Reid was a regular at J&J Blues Bar in Fort Worth.

Feldman said he enjoyed arguing with Reid about religion because it was refreshing to talk to someone who didn’t share his beliefs. Everything he learned at Brite he would discuss with Reid, he said.

“We would come here after class and we would talk to him into the wee hours,” Feldman said.

“No pun intended,” Booth added.

Rob Schumacher, a 2007 graduate in communication studies, said he and his friends would frequent the bar on weekends, including after football games. Reid would look out for all who visited the bar, making sure they had a ride home and keeping them out of fights, Schumacher said.

Reid also knew everyone and what they liked, he said.

“His Bloody Marys were the best thing I’ve ever had in the world,” Schumacher said.

Thomas Reid, Trent’s brother, said his sibling was diagnosed with cancer in 1994. He loved to learn anything about everything he could, and he bartended until the last week of February, a few days before he died.

“He was a professional student his whole life, basically, which fit in great with the TCU crowd here,” he said.

Thomas Reid and a third brother plan to scatter Trent’s ashes in Ruidoso, New Mexico, where the trio would hunt elk.

Feldman said Kathy Graham, a former manager of the Oui Lounge who died last year, and Reid would always make him and his friends feel at home.

“The Oui is not going to be the same,” he said.

But Reid lives on in those whose lives he touched.

“I went to school,” McAdoo said. “Trent gave me the education.”