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Respected WNC journalist, advocate dies at 92

Alfred Douglas “Doug” Reed of Cullowhee (center) is congratulated by Robin Denny, president of the College News Association of the Carolinas, and Bill Studenc, senior director of news services at Western Carolina University, after being named recipient of CNAC’s Lifetime Membership Award. Alfred Douglas “Doug” Reed of Cullowhee (center) is congratulated by Robin Denny, president of the College News Association of the Carolinas, and Bill Studenc, senior director of news services at Western Carolina University, after being named recipient of CNAC’s Lifetime Membership Award.

Alfred Douglas “Doug” Reed, one of Western North Carolina’s most respected journalists and community advocates and a key leader through 10 administrations at Western Carolina University, died Sunday, July 19, at his home in Cullowhee at age 92.

Sought after for his exquisite writing, keen intellect, wise counsel, and gentle and kind manner, Reed touched the lives of hundreds of colleagues, students and community members who often relied on his integrity, honesty and ability to calmly work through difficult situations. His sharp wit was his lifelong hallmark.

He was known for his tremendous capacity to love, especially for his family and for God, and his faith in the church. He was an active member of Sylva First Presbyterian Church.

 Reed (and his late spouse Joyce Freeman Reed) raised five sons in a loving and supportive home. His sons were encouraged into successful and creative careers in journalism, video production, education, technology and health care; secure in their life’s ventures by the solid, unconditional love of their parents and home.

Reed’s career in journalism began in 1949 as a reporter and features writer for The Asheville Citizen. He became city editor at Asheville and then was chief capital correspondent in Raleigh for the newspaper in 1959. After a brief move to the Shelby Daily Star as associate editor, Reed returned to the Citizen-Times as associate editor. He later became managing editor and Raleigh bureau manager.

His tenure at the Citizen-Times would coincide with a period of expansion and regional influence by the newspaper, nourished by Reed and his colleagues Richard “Dick” Wynne, John Parris, Bob Terrell, Bob Satterwhite and others of that era. Reed’s work as a journalist was characterized by quality, fairness and accuracy, all traits he took with him to what was then called Western Carolina College in 1966.

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Hired as public information director by President Paul Reid, he would serve the institution for 30 years in executive roles for Reid as well as Alex Pow, Frank Brown (twice), Jack Carlton, Hugh McEniry, H.F. “Cotton” Robinson, Myron Coulter, Jack Wakeley and John Bardo. Upon his retirement in 1996, he remained at WCU in a part-time capacity as a special assistant to the chancellor. During his time at WCU, he was part of the institution’s change from a college to a university within the University of North Carolina System and witnessed the doubling of student enrollment.

In addition to his career as public information officer at WCU, Reed served for many years in the dual role of assistant professor of English, with responsibility for starting a new concentration in journalism, later rising to the rank of associate professor and receiving tenure. 

Reed was a recipient of WCU’s Paul A. Reid Distinguished Service Award for Administrative Staff, Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Service and Alumni Association Unsung Hero Award. He was presented with an honorary doctorate in May 2010. In 2011, he received a Lifetime Membership Award in the College News Association of the Carolinas, a group of higher education public relations professionals from across the Carolinas that he helped found in the 1960s.

A testament to his versatile leadership was his work for diverse community organizations, including Asheville City School Board, the North Carolina State Employees Association, the boards of Wachovia Bank and the State Employees Credit Union, the Public Relations Association of WNC, Cherokee Historical Society, Smoky Mountain Host, WNC Public Radio, The Great Smoky Mountains Association, the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce and Western North Carolina Associated Communities, among too many others to name.

Reed’s work earned friendships and praise from the late Rev. Billy Graham and legendary UNC System president William Friday, as well as several governors including Terry Sanford and Jim Hunt, legislative leaders and judges such as Lacy Thornburg.

Born in Bristol, Tennessee, Reed was the son of the late Roy Theodore and Elizabeth Brown Tuft Reed. He was a graduate of Mars Hill College and Erskine College, studying English, history, religion and journalism.

He is survived by his wife Grace Gallagher Reed, of the home, whom he married in April 2011. Reed was married to Joyce Freeman Reed from 1950 until her death in 2005, and the couple had five sons Roy F. Reed (Dinita James) of Phoenix, Arizona; Robert D. Reed (deceased, Teresa) of Pittsboro, N.C.; David C. Reed (Audrey) of Lebanon, Mo.; Timothy W. Reed of Durham, N.C.; and Joseph W. Reed (Christine) of Pittsboro, N.C. He is also survived by four grandchildren and two brothers, Robert Reed of Southern Pines, N.C., and Gordon Reed of Gable, S.C.

There will be a closed service due to current health concerns this Friday in Sylva. A celebration of life will be scheduled later this year when a greater gathering can be held.

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