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In memory of Robert Reed (1928-2017)

Posted By Michelle Pederson, Thursday, May 4, 2017

The UUMA Board and staff offer our condolences to the family and colleagues of the Rev. George Robert “Bob” Reed, who died on March 15, 2017 at the age of 88.

Bob was born on August 15, 1928 to parents Beulah May Reed and William Harold Reed. In 1950 he received a Bachelor of Arts in History from Lafayette College in Easton, PA; later that same year he married his beloved wife Jeanne. For several years Bob worked as a personnel manager and management engineer for the federal government in Washington, D.C, and it was during this time that he found Unitarianism at the Unitarian Church of Arlington, VA (now the UU Church of Arlington). After answering the call toward ministry, Bob studied Constructive Theology at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, IL, earning his Bachelor of Divinity in 1959.

Rev. Reed was ordained by the Unitarian Church of Arlington on September 27, 1959, and he ministered to the congregation for a year following his graduation from Meadville Lombard. He then answered a call to serve the Unitarian Church of Bloomington, IL (now the UU Church of Bloomington-Normal). In 1965, during his tenure at the Bloomington congregation, Rev. Reed presided at the funeral of Illinois governor, presidential candidate, and diplomat Adlai Stevenson II. Rev. Reed then accepted the call of the First Unitarian Church of Louisville, KY, where he would passionately minister for seventeen years. Finally Rev. Reed served as the Associate Minister for Pastoral Care at the North Shore UU Society on Long Island, NY (now the UU Congregation at Shelter Rock) from 1985 until his retirement in 1994, at which time the Louisville congregation named him their Minister Emeritus.

Bob dedicated much time and energy to the denomination. While attending Meadville Lombard Theological School in the late ‘50s, he served as part-time Director of Religious Education at the First Universalist Church of Chicago (now All Souls Free Religious Fellowship). For a year beginning in 1961 Rev. Reed was President the Midwest UU Ministers’ Association. He served the Central Midwest District Ministers’ Association as its Secretary from 1964 to 1966, and in 1964 he chaired its Annual Meeting. Together with his wife Jeanne, Bob conducted UUA Couples Enrichment weekend workshops for the Ohio Valley District during the period of 1978 to 1981. And from 1982 to 1983 Rev. Reed served on the board of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers’ Association and on the UUA’s Ministerial Fellowship Committee as its UUMA representative.

Outside of his parish ministry Rev. Reed participated in ample community activities, social services, and civil rights activism. In his spare time, Bob loved best of all to attend the theatre and the symphony. He was also an appreciator of the outdoors, particularly fishing and summer camping. Finally, Bob enjoyed practicing the fine art of baking bread.

When asked in 1985 to reflect upon this denomination to which he’d dedicated so much of his life and labors, Rev. Reed had this to say: “There has never been greater need for a Unitarian Universalist church. … We need each other. We need the excitement, the caring, the knowledge and skill, the questioning and confirmation, and the discipline of our communities of freedom.”

Rev. Reed is survived by his four sons Robert (Sherrille), Douglas (Lynn), Jeffrey (Nancy), David (Kathleen); seven grandchildren Patrick Simpson, Amy Reed, Trent Fried (Julie), Ian Reed, Dylan Reed, Nolan Reed, Anna Kate Reed; and two great grandchildren Shelby Fried and Lindsey Fried. He was preceded in death by his loving wife of 66 years Jeanne W. Reed in July 2016.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Meadville Lombard Theological School, the Louisville Orchestra, Lafayette College, and Family and Children’s Place.

A memorial service will take place at 10am on Saturday, May 13, 2017 at First Unitarian Church, 809 S 4th St, Louisville, KY 40203.

Notes of condolence can be sent to David Reed at and at 1844 Gresham Road, Louisville, KY 40205.

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