Just before sunrise on the 244th Independence Day of these United States Jean Wallace Reed went to her Glory. Her husband, daughter and daughter-in-law were present.
Jean was born in Newark, New Jersey. Her father, William Wallace and mother, Janet Darroch Wallace (nee Darroch) were Scottish immigrants who had come to the United States to seek a better life. Her mother worked as a spooler at the local Coates and Clark thread factory and her father was a tailor. She had a half sister, Rita, who was ten years older than Jean.
Jean’s early years were marked by transition. Jean’s mother died a few days before her 2nd birthday. Rita was taken in by her mother’s sister and Jean stayed with her father, moving from New Jersey to Boston. Despite being closer to his family, William never really recovered from the loss of his wife. When Jean was seven she attended a Salvation Army Summer Camp in Ohio where she quickly became friends with the Camp Superintendent, Colonel Angele Mathilde Seiler (nee DeCummings). She became part of the Salvation Army family when Angele arranged for Marie Bates to obtain guardianship over Jean. The following year Marie married Paul Seiler, another Salvation Army Officer. Jean always wore a smile when she told people that she was present at her parents’ wedding. The Seilers raised Jean until she was 18 and she considered them her Mom and Dad.
As a young woman Jean continued to move with her new family. She attended schools in Massachusetts and Rhode Island and graduated from Cranston High School in 1956. She then went to the Katherine Gibbs School for Executive Secretaries. In 1958 the Seilers moved to Albany, New York with their 3 young sons and Jean went with them. She was hired by Atlantic Richfield to work as a secretary, a job she did not like because typing and shorthand were just not her thing. She left Atlantic Richfield and went to work for Blue Cross in their accounting department. A job which she preferred and where she flourished.
In the fall of 1958 I spotted Jean at a fraternity party in Troy, New York. There was this gorgeous, vivacious red headed young lady, standing on the second floor balcony, pouring champagne into the mouth of a fraternity brother standing on the first floor. I looked at her and said to myself, “There is a girl I need to meet.” I found out later that her hair color was the result of her limited knowledge of how to apply “Light and Bright.” But it didn’t matter; I was hooked. I dated Jean throughout college and we were married in the Episcopal Church on September 30, 1961. Our first son, David, was born the following year, but died at three months old. Our daughter, Deborah, arrived in 1963 and our son, Michael, was born one year later.
For the next 33 years Jean faithfully followed me around the country as I moved from job to job. She never complained and always, almost immediately, surrounded herself with new friends in NJ, SC, NC, GA, PA, and MO. Everywhere we went, Jean touched people who will remember her for her generous spirit and her trademark smile.
In 1995 we moved to Lake Oconee, GA where Jean could finally put down roots. In Greensboro she became very involved with the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, serving on the Vestry several times and chairing the Outreach Committee forever. Many folks she helped knew her as Miss Jean. Her ability to remember names was extraordinary. She was an avid Publix shopper who visited the store almost daily. My favorite story occurred when she was there one day, greeting almost every worker by name. I overheard a lady talking to the Publix Manager and commenting on how she could not believe Jean knew so many of his workers. He replied that for the first six months he worked in the store he saw Jean so often that he actually thought she was an employee.
Jean was the love of my life, my wife, the mother of my children, but most of all my best friend. I will miss her greatly.
In addition to her parents and adopted parents, she was preceded in death by her son, David Alan Reed; and her half sister, Rita Margaret Wallace. Survivors include her husband, Lester Charles Reed, Jr. of Greensboro, GA; daughter, Deborah Lynn Parker and husband Michael of Duluth Georgia, son, Colonel Michael David Reed (USAF Ret.) and wife Anne (nee Clement) of Fulton, Maryland; three grandchildren, Margaret Mary Reed, Kirsten Clement Reed and David Clement Reed; a number of other relatives and many friends.
A Memorial Service will be held Saturday, July 13, 2019 at 10 am. at The Episcopal Church of The Redeemer, 303 North Main Street, Greensboro, GA 30642 with Rev. William Combs officiating. The family will receive friends Friday, July 12th from 5:30 to 8:30 pm at the Highgate Estate and Gardens, 301 West Greene Street, Greensboro, GA 30642. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorials be made in memory of Jean Wallace Reed to “The Episcopal Church of the Redeemer Outreach Fund” , PO Box 93, Greensboro, GA 30642 or to the “PEO Chapter AP Scholarship Fund,” PEO Executive Office, 3700 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, IA, 50312-3153. McCommons Funeral Home, 109 W. Broad St., Greensboro, GA, (706) 453-2626, is in charge of arrangements. Visit us at www.mccommonsfuneralhome.com to sign the online guest register.
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