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Donald Reed (1932-2020)

This is the obituary I wrote for the Fort Bragg [California] Advocate-News and Ortonville [Minnesota] Independent:


Donald Reed, 88, died September 11, 2020, at his home in Fort Bragg, California. The retired counselor, linguist, and intelligence officer died of cardiovascular disease.

Donald Senn Reed was born August 6, 1932, in Des Moines, Iowa, the eldest of Cecil "Doc" James and Gladys Reed's three children. He grew up in Ortonville, Minnesota, where his father practiced medicine and his mother was the choir director at First United Methodist Church.

Growing up, he participated in choir, band, theater, basketball, track and field, and student government before graduating from Ortonville High School in 1950. Don attended Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, for two years, before leaving to join the U.S. Army in 1952. While in the Army, he studied Mandarin Chinese at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, California, and served in Washington D.C. before he was honorably discharged. After his military service, he returned to school to earn his Bachelor of Arts, with a specialty in law, from the University of Minnesota in 1958. He then moved back to the East Coast to work for the National Security Agency in Ft. Meade, Maryland, as an intelligence research analyst until 1960. His duties remain classified.

Don endured a decades-long battle with alcoholism, recovering through Alcoholics Anonymous programs and becoming an AA leader. In 1980, he became director of the Fort Bragg [California] Pilot House, which was a resident recovery home on Franklin Street that he led for eight years before moving on to assist other recovery homes in the area until his retirement in 2000. His time at the Pilot House had an indelible impact on Don's life. He said in a 2004 Ukiah Daily Journal article that, "It was probably the biggest instrument in my own recovery… and I'm forever grateful."

He was preceded in death by his parents, sister Patricia (Robert) Brown, brother David (Rochelle "Shelley") Reed, and former spouses Audre (née Swanson) Sowle and Patricia (née Enos) Arnold. He is survived by his three sons, Scott, Joel, and Shawn, all of Minnesota, and his five grandchildren, Jason, Brandon, Matthew, Karen, and Trevor.

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