Donald Reed's Obit

Here is the obituary of Don Reed (written by Andy Yemma):


Donald Upham Reed, reporter, writer, editor and professor; 34 years with United Press International, the last four as its worldwide managing editor in New York; died Thursday (Oct 31, 2002) in his retirement home in Tulsa, Okla. Reed was known and admired by UPI colleagues as an unflappable newsman whose mentoring helped produce a generation of professional writers and editors.

"He gave us plenty of slack and was never stingy about handing out praise if it was due," said Don Mullen, longtime UPI general desk editor who worked for Reed in New York.

"His method of operating was to help steer you along the right track -- gently, so that at the conclusion you felt it was your accomplishment -- even though you might not have been able to do it alone," added Ronald E. Cohen, who succeeded Reed as UPI's managing editor in 1983.

Born Nov. 17, 1926, in Fresno, Calif., the son of a newspaper production worker, Reed enlisted in the Navy in 1944 and was on a troop ship headed to the Far East for the final invasion of Japan when the war ended after the atomic bombings in 1945. He returned home and enrolled in Fresno State College on the GI Bill. In the crush of post-war enrollment in 1946, Reed met Marcia Snyder in a biology course registration line. They were married Aug. 10, 1947.

Having earned a bachelor's degree in journalism in three years, Reed landed an opening in the Fresno bureau of United Press for $32 per week.

"As a rookie I was assigned to the early shift," he wrote in a memoir he published in 1994. "Take the overnight report to the bus station for delivery to a newspaper in Tulare County, call that newspaper and another on the west side of Fresno County with the latest news from the UP wires. Wow, this stuff was never talked about in college classes. If the major news services -- AP, UPI, INS -- were mentioned I must have been asleep."

Reed reported from Fresno for UP until 1963, when he was named manager of the Salt Lake City of UPI (United Press and International News Service merged in 1958). He was named San Francisco bureau manager in 1965 and became Southwest Division News Editor in Dallas in 1969. While in the Southwest, Reed was a key participant in UPI's Apollo space program coverage. During the harrowing Apollo 13 mission, Reed invented a system of writing advance leads on key moments of the drama -- re-entry, splashdown and rescue -- allowing editors around the world to get the news out quickly. Recalled Ron Cohen: "I am all but certain this was unique in wire service annals, and it worked perfectly. If I recall, UPI won the play on splashdown, no doubt largely because of this incredible planning innovation."

Reed moved on to head the UPI Central Division in Chicago in 1975 and was named worldwide managing editor in New York in 1979. Following the divestiture of UPI by the Scripps Howard newspaper chain to private ownership in 1982, Reed retired to a journalism professorship at Oklahoma State University, where he remained until 1994.

"In my career with UPI every day was a challenge to beat The Associated Press," Reed wrote in his memoir. "Most of the time in my 34-year UPI career I was an editor with only a few bylines. My joy came from being able to rewrite copy to make the reporter worthy of a byline and to beat the AP in daily logs of stories used in major newspapers."

Always the space buff, Reed also noted that his top 10 stories are "Seven Apollo moon flights, three Skylab flights and the joint U.S.-Soviet docking in space."

In his farewell message to UPI colleagues on Oct. 7, 1983, Reed wrote: "Strive for tight writing, with solid color and meaningful quotes, and above all, be accurate."

He is survived by his wife Marcia; sons Hal, David and Richard; and several grandchildren.