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Alfred Douglas Reed

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.

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.

To plant memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Alfred Reed, please visit our flower store.


I simply would not be who I am today if my path had not crossed with Doug Reed's. He was my supervisor and journalism instructor and helped me to find self-confidence in my writing and editing, and I still remember so much that he taught me. Also, he was a father figure at that young point in my life. We later became dear friends, and, yes, Doug, you are missed. However, you always are in my heart. Condolences to Grace, whom I have grown to love as well, and the rest of the family. Toni

tblueblaze@aol.com Jul 27 2020 12:00 AM

A candle was lit in memory of Alfred Reed

tblueblaze@aol.com Jul 27 2020 12:00 AM

Mr. Doug Reed touched many lives in special ways during his lifetime. He and his first wife (Joyce) were very special friends of my parents, Frank and Elsie Brown. Mr. Reed and my father shared many special times with each other during the years they worked together at WCU as well as their work in civic groups/organizations. One of the highlights of our life was a trip to Hawaii in August 1977. The Reeds were such fun to be with on that trip. A smile always comes to our faces when thinking of that trip. In later years, we were very fortunate to get to know Grace and see what she meant to Mr. Reed. Western North Carolina will miss Mr. Reed greatly. A true gentleman in every sense of the word, Becky and I consider it an honor to have known him. Our prayers and thoughts go out to each family member. Much Love to all of you, Frank and Becky Brown

Frank and Becky Brown Jul 26 2020 12:00 AM

Grace and Family, Doug Reed was a very special person in my life and my career. He was my Journalism Professor, my Mentor and my friend. I still have the old blue AP Style Manual which was our bible in his classes. Even after graduation from Western, we stayed in touch. His calls or email were always a treat. He was proud of my career and I owe him so much for touching my life. --30--

Tom Ditt Jul 22 2020 12:00 AM

A candle was lit in memory of Alfred Reed

Tom Ditt Jul 22 2020 12:00 AM

I did not know Doug Reed early in my career at WCU, but the people who worked for him were frequently getting me gigs on radio and TV and I knew they had great respect for him. Then, late in 1985, Chancellor Coulter asked Doug to chair a small committee I served on to write a mission statement in response to demands by the institutions accreditor. Instead of seeing this as a simple writing task, Doug led a fundamental reexamination of Westerns role and mission. The product, though initially controversial, helped WCU develop a distinctive identity that facilitated its subsequent development. I got to know Doug on a more personal level when he married Grace and joined our adult Sunday School class. There his scholarly bent, his deep Christian faith, and his stories from newsrooms contributed greatly to our discussions. Doug was the only member of the class who had a Greek Bible that he would refer to for adding special insights. Doug, it was good to know you and you will be missed. Condolences to Grace and all the family.

Bruce Henderson Jul 22 2020 12:00 AM

Friends and Family uploaded 1 to the gallery.

Friends and Family Nov 30 -0001 12:00 AM