SHIRLEY -- When Don Reed and his wife, Sally, moved to the small town where they made their home for over 35 years, Don began to immerse himself in the civic and social activities of the community, serving on the Master Plan Committee and on the Historical Commission, which he chaired for several years. He was also a member of the Council on Aging and assisted in the Senior Center renovation.
According to his longtime friend and fellow historian Robert Adam, Don helped assemble the first survey of historic buildings in town, designed the graphic for the Historic District brochure and as an experienced architect, was the "go to guy" on historic building projects. Sales of his paintings -- oils and watercolors -- have contributed to fundraisers, such as the series he did of St.
Adam was one of several family members and friends who spoke at Don Reed's very well-attended funeral service last week, held in Shirley's historic Meetinghouse. "He loved this building," Adam said.
Speakers described him as an intellectual with an impish wit and self-deprecating sense of humor; an engaging storyteller with a seemingly endless repertoire, a seeker after knowledge whose omnivorous interests spanned subjects from the cosmos to politics to the Internet and a prolific e-mail writer noted for memorable tag-lines. He was quick, quirky, curious, often disheveled and always kind, they said.
An artist and an avid reader -- among other things -- Don's resume included projects overseas and a stint in the Navy.
Don's daughter, Martha Baker, spoke of how hard it is to envision the world without him. But her father left many memories, including in the homes he'd helped renovate that "carry pieces of him," she said.
He loved nature's rhythms and patterns, noticed everything and reveled in "all of it," she continued, from an architectural feature to gathering thunderheads they'd seen on a recent trip. "The world was a constant source of wonder to him," she said. "He was funny and rumpled...he made people feel special."
Don's granddaughter, Sarah Jane Reed, said he gave books as gifts and was "proud of all of us." He introduced her to great writers and architectural nuances. "Always look at buildings," he told her. She recalled his many e-mails and how he'd sign off with "Go well..." she said. "I miss you so much already."
A graduate of the University of Rochester and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where he earned a Master's in Architecture, Don Reed favored his New York Alma Mater's motto: "Meliora," which means "ever better." His life embodied it. After retirement, he expanded his agenda, turning to sources for enrichment and creativity in his own back yard. For example, as an artist, he focused on scenes close to home, capturing images from angles not often taken, such as views of the side porches of historic houses that were often the homes of his friends and to whom he often gifted those paintings.
Don Reed is survived by his wife Sally, their adult children, David and Martha and two adult step-childen, Sigrid Konitzky (Jeffrey ) and Gus Konitzky; several grandchildren, a great-grandson, nieces and nephews. He was laid to rest in the historic Center Cemetery next to the meetinghouse on the Town Common.