Amherst Magazine

Dorian F. Reid '38

Deceased January 25, 2008
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Dorian F. Reid

Homer and Virgil were household words in Dorian’s childhood.

The classical ambience came from his adoptive mother, Edith Hamilton, author of acclaimed works on ancient Greece and Rome. He first visited Greece with her and an aunt when he was eleven.

Dorian, ninety, died on January 25, 2008, a widower, survived by a daughter and two granddaughters. An Amherst son, a brother, and three sisters predeceased him.

Chemist, sailor, and craftsman, Dorian was mentally sharp to the end, his daughter, Alice Reid Abbott, said in a phone interview. “He died of old age. His body quit, but his mind didn’t. He stayed inquisitive, an amazing mind.”

Dorian was born to Marie Magdalene Svensen and Francis Fielding Reid in Alexandria, VA, and adopted when he was four.

He was home-schooled by Hamilton and the aunt, Doris Fielding Reid, his father’s sister, and lived as a child in Sea Wall, ME, and Gramercy Park, a gracious neighborhood in New York’s Manhattan.  Later, he attended Avon Old Farms School and graduated from The Gunnery in 1934.

At Amherst, he joined Delta Tau Delta, was active in the Student Union, the Pre-Medical Club and the Flying Club. A chemistry major, he began his career at General Electric in Pittsfield, MA.  In 1942, he married Betty Sharley (Middlebury ’38), a chemist at the same plant. He later worked in the paper industry at W. Libbey in Lewiston, ME, and with consumer products at Johnson & Johnson in New Jersey. After that, he worked in plastics at firms in New York City, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and California. He retired in 1974.

Sea Wall was his beloved summer home, and he returned there every year, including 2007, the last year of his life when Angel Flight helped him to travel. He died in West Lafayette, IN, where he had moved in 1999.

Dorian’s grandfather, Harry Fielding Reid, a noted geologist and physicist, developed a theory called Elastic Rebound to explain the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco. The theory is still recognized as the foundation of modern tectonic analysis. His grandmother, Edith Gittings Reid, wrote biographies of President Woodrow Wilson, who was a family friend, and of the physician, William Osler, famed as a medical historian and the creator of the residency program for young doctors.

An obituary in the Journal & Courier of Lafayette, IN, remembered Dorian as instilling a love of sailing and devotion to the ocean in his children. He also was a fine wood craftsman. Among his works was an intricate model of the JT Morris, a steamship which ran to Bar Harbor, ME, and a doll’s high chair for daughter Alice. Besides her, he is survived by granddaughters, Laurel S. Reitman of San Francisco and Sally N. Abbott of Somerville, ME.

His wife died in 1995. He was also predeceased by a son, Harry Fielding Reid II ’67; a brother, Ernest Reid; and three sisters, Elizabeth Pfeiffer, Madeline English and Mary McKnight.

George Bria ’38

 

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