Amherst Magazine

JAMES ALEXANDER REED JR. ’52  

Jim Reed died as a result of many medical complications on Oct. 28, 2008. I had the pleasure of knowing Jim since the fall of 1938 when we entered the second grade at Indian Landing School in Brighton, N.Y., a suburb of Rochester. Shirley Herman Andrew (Bill’s wife) was also a member of that class. After completing eight grades, we attended different public high schools, but we both entered Amherst College in the fall of 1944 and roomed together for two years. In sophomore year, Jim pledged Chi Psi and I joined DU. We served together as managers of the basketball team; Jim was also a features editor for the Amherst Student and worked on the Olio. He was the owner of a superior singing voice and was often a participator whenever a singing group assembled. He cherished a lively party.

After graduating from Amherst with a cum laude degree in history, he immediately matriculated to Harvard Law School and completed his studies there in 1955. The U.S. Navy Officer’s Candidate School in Newport, R.I., was next, followed by service as a gunnery officer on the aircraft carrier, U.S.S. Randolph, in the Sixth Fleet. That meant frequent shore-patrol duty in Spain, Greece, Italy, France and Turkey. To quote Jim: “Wasn’t the cold war wonderful?” Returning to Rochester in 1958, he joined a law firm, which eventually became Osburn, Reed and Burke. He specialized in defending doctors and hospitals in malpractice suits. Jim also served as town attorney for Pittsford, N.Y., where he resided, during which time he was responsible for the adoption of the town’s Code of Ordinance. He was listed in Who’s Who in America.

Jim experienced two unsuccessful marriages but raised a son and a daughter who provided him with three grandsons. His daughter, Diane Hilbert, lives on Long Island and has two college-age sons. His son, Geoffrey, and daughter-in-law, Katie, have a three-year old son. After retiring from his law practice, Jim suffered a multitude of illnesses. Initially he was incorrectly diagnosed with lung cancer, but the condition developed into larynx problems resulting in the loss of his ability to speak. Then followed the loss of a kidney, which meant dialysis, and eventually the amputation of one leg. Geoffrey provided a home for him, and Katie was responsible for getting him to dialysis when he could no longer drive. Through all of this, Jim kept his high spirits. He continued to be an active, inveterate reader, and when he visited a library or bookstore, it often took hours to locate a book he had not previously read.

On Nov. 25, I attended a brief burial service for Jim, after which Geoffrey and Katie hosted a celebration buffet at their home, which Jim would have thoroughly enjoyed.

—Sheldon Brayer ’52

 

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