Late Tuesday night, August 2, 2016, my dad’s Alzheimer’s Journey came to an end.
What do you say about losing a parent so slowly, and then at the actual passing?
So many things about his physical departure from our life was perfect:
- His whole family was with him. My sister was in town all week from Pennsylvania. My brother & I were there and of course my mom and his wife of 53 years.
- We had a wonderful day on Monday with “The Original Reed 5” as I posted that day… my dad was trying to talk and communicate more than he has in months and it felt like he was really with us. It was a good day of connection and preparing…
Little did I know that we were preparing for Tuesday…
My sister called in the morning and said, “We think it’s happening…” I was surprised… while my dad had lost 6 lbs in just one week and was getting very unstable, from what I’d seen of others in the care home, it didn’t seem to me like it would be so fast.
My dad passed away peacefully at about 11:30 pm. We are all relieved that his journey has ended and that he was at home.
Those are the “facts” of his passing… but what of the man? The husband, the father of 3, the grandfather of 5, father-in-law of 3… the teacher, the friend…
My dad lived an amazing life and touched the lives of so many. The beginning and end were bumpy: he lost his brother, mother and father by age 14 but was thankfully brought into the fold of his aunt and uncle’s family. Dementia and Alzheimer’s took him slowly, piece by piece, in the end.
He worked his way through college and graduate school bagging groceries. (He could tell you to the day how long that job lasted!) He first taught high school and then Astronomy at West Chester University for over 30 years.
He and my mom were best friends and amazing role models of what a marriage could be. They set the bar high…
Our family went on many adventures around the world – mostly in search of astronomy and astronomers – as my dad always said, “Everything goes back to Astronomy”. While we often rolled our eyes, I’m beginning to believe he was right and expect he will continue to prove his point in subtle ways.
He taught us the value of always doing our best and not being afraid to try and fail. To seize the day and not put off adventures. He and my mom loved to explore the world and are the most well-travelled people I know.
He is the reason I’m an artist. I remember sitting in his office watching him draw cartoons and aspiring to learn how too.
He often said he had considered being an artist but since he had heard of “starving artists” but never a “starving physicist” – he majored in physics but always had art in his life.
There are planetariums around the globe that have his cartoon constellations in them. He illustrated a weekly column in the Daily Local News for 18 1/2 years – 956 articles in all. (Guess I get my writing bug from him as well!)
At birthday parties, he would ask us what we wanted to be and draw a cartoon for each friend.
When we were in middle school he would draw cartoons on our lunch bags – mine would be passed around the table for everyone to see so I was always the last to start eating. I wish I had saved some of those bags…
My dad was an amazing, loving and supportive father. A devoted husband and a beloved grandfather.
We had a Celebration of Life in his honor and we were so thankful for all who came to shower us with love and strength and help us remember this amazing man.
My dad never understood how people could get so upset when someone who had lived a full, long life passed away. He lost both of his parents by the time he was 14 so his perspective was very different than many. So we celebrated him with as few tears as possible to honor his way of looking at the end of life.
I know that my dad is now at peace, looking down on us from the stars instead of studying them from the earth. He will be deeply missed but never forgotten.
I love you dad.
– Tara Reed
P.S. Don’t forget our deal dad: you will line the pens up perfectly in my studio so I know you are still with me. (He was METICULOUS with his workspace and one of “our things” was for me to turn a pen or pencil at an angle, to be found later and followed by a faux-annoyed “TA-RAAAA…” and a laugh.)
As your father said it all goes back to astronomy. We began from the dust of long ago stars. What a beautiful tribute to him. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and insight.
Peace and comfort to you and yours
Thank you Gina 🙂
Today I just happened to Google your Dad’s name and this popped up!!! I am sorry to hear about your dad, he was a wonderful man and a very decent human being. I just loved him!!
My name is Srikanth, and I used to work with your Dad years ago. I am from India and now I have been living in CA since 1998. Your Dad used to work for Spitz Space systems and I used to represent that company in India, Your dad would visit every three months India and we became not just colleagues but good friends. He along with Mr. Charles Holmes have come home when I was residing in India.
He has often spoken about all of you , in fact he told me once that one of my daughters is names Tara and I then responded do you know what that means in one of our languages ?? “Star” He seemed to be pleased about it. Believe it or not I so very often think about him . I am not sure of he ever spoke about me. I do remember that he told me that your brother wanted to become a fire fighter correct?
I would love to have a chat with you just to walk down memory lane…..
I would appreciate if you can respond to me whenever you find time
Thank you so much for your kind words – I remember when he was going to India often! I’ll email you to connect.
Hi Tara, I just saw this post and I will tell you the reason it made me think of George Reid. In 1975, my husband and I were married. His first job was for Kendall Hunt publishing company. And one of his very first authors was your dad, George Reed. It seems they got along very well working together. Your dad was kind enough to invite my husband and myself for dinner at his house in Westchester. We arrived and there was my husband Len and I and probably about eight other people from the college. I think we were a little intimidated! But it was a wonderful dinner and your mom made a potato casserole that we just loved! It’s the one we’re mashed potatoes, cream cheese, eggs, flour, etc. and bake it in the oven. Your mother was kind enough to give us the recipe. I have made it many times and especially on special occasions like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Today, I made it for my daughters and their spouses. When I pulled out the original recipe, on the back was your dad‘s name, Westchester State College in the year 1975. Wow, it seems so long ago. But I have a great memories of your dad and that dinner! Seeing the other responses, it appears he affected many peoples lives. I just wanted you to know the story ! Take care and I am sure your dad is looking from above to everyone!
Thank you so much for your comment – my dad would have been so honored to be remembered by one of his editors, he loved to write. I’ll have to ask my mom about that casserole – it’s not ringing a bell. But we were all picky eaters so maybe she kept it for company. 🤣 I’ll share your memories with my mom, sister & brother – we all enjoy them.
I am writing an article for possible publication in Science Teacher Magazine. It was in a 1973 NSF class at West Chester that I had my first astronomy class – from your father. I learned so, so, so much from that course. He was just an excellent, vibrant, interesting instructor. Upon returning to teaching in the fall, I incorporated so many ideas and concepts from his class into my high school earth science class and, also, into my junior college astronomy course. His two books, Naked i Astronomy and Astronomy of One Constellation are on my shelf, having been referenced so many times. In 1972, he published a two-page article in Science Activities – The Teacher’s Classroom Guide. His article was on using “Astrobingo.” Each year in a unit on stars and constellations, we played this game for 2.5 days (at the high school level). It was a big hit. “Astrobingo” was the best, most successful educational game I used in teaching. Your father’s course, in conjunction with Sy Greenburg’s field geology ( both part of the summer NSF fellowship), were two of the best collegiate courses I ever had. The manuscript I am writing is from concepts and ideas from your father’s course – 48 years ago! Of all my units in the high-school earth science that I taught, my astronomy unit on stars and constellations was the most successful. This was based on student interest and achievement. Virtually all of that success is from your father’s 1973 course.
It is obvious you are so proud of your father – and you should be. My father was worthless, walking out when I was nine after beating my mother up. I, too, would have cherished such an outstanding father, as yours. I am so saddened to, just now, learn, of his passing a few years ago. He was a real asset at West Chester.
My wife’s father died of dementia. A sad testimony to such talent.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your memories of my dad – they mean the world to me and my family.
Just heard of his passing.
My favorite professor at West Chester, (And I was a social studies major.)
Every time I hear the Moody Blues “Days of Future Past” I think of him.
He frequently played it as we entered the starlit planetarium.
He was out fraternity advisor…..Sigma Tau Gamma.
Sorry for your loss he was a special man.
Thank you so much for your comment – my family and I learn something new every time. My sister and I didn’t know he liked the Moody Blues or that he was a fraternity advisor – her husband was actually in Sigma Tau Gamma at Penn State so how he didn’t tell us that constantly is a mystery!
I’m just seeing this now. I was a student at WCSC and graduated in 1982. You Dad was my astronomy professor. I never forgot about him and Googled his name just to see if I could possibly locate him and came upon this. I’m so sorry to hear the news.
My dad would be so honored to have made such an impact on so many of his students and I and my family are very appreciative of all the stories and memories left here. Thank you! (Sorry for my delay responding!)
Very sorry for your loss! No more suffering, go with God
Thank you – I am very glad his journey is done, now it’s left for those of us left behind to move on without an amazing man.
What a blessing that you were all able to be together. God granted you all those precious days. My thoughts and prayers go out to you.
Thank you Heather – that’s what we are focusing on. It really was amazing and divine timing…
As your Dad looks down from above Tara he will be thinking what a wonderful legacy he has left behind and how proud he raised his family …you are inspirational to many others now on this journey . Bless you all for showing what the power of love and positivity can overcome. Xox
Thank you Pam… I like to think my dad would be glad he is still teaching. No longer in a planentarium about the stars but through me about how to navigate this journey.
My deepest sympathy to you and your lovely family. Your dad was the most beloved teacher I ever had. I graduated from WCU in 1985 and your dad cemented in me a life-long love and fascination with astronomy and the cosmos. He was a brilliant man yet modest and gentle with a great smile and a wonderful sense of humor. I thought of your dad often throughout the 30 years since he last taught me. It takes a very special type of person to leave such an impression that lasts for decades. Your dad was that type of guy and I am truly saddened by his passing. You and your family deserve the highest praise for your loving and devoted care of this remarkable man during years of great difficulty and sorrow. I hope my fond memories of your dad help to bring you and yours comfort during this difficult time.
Bob – Thank you so much for your kind words, it’s wonderful to hear how much of an impact my dad made on some of his students. He was a dedicated teacher and I’m sure a star will twinkle a “thanks!” sometime soon!
I am so sorry to hear of your father’s passing, Tara. My father also has Alzheimer’s.
He is able to be home with my mom for now, he knows us, and can function fairly well,
but we all know the time will come when we will be going thru the harder stages.
I so appreciate you sharing your experience with us, so we can be prepared and not fearful, sad, but knowing we did the best we could.
Wishing your family comfort at this difficult time.
Thank you and sending lots of love and strength to your family.
I’m so sorry for your loss. My deepest sympathy to you and your family. As you said, it’s now time to pick up the pieces and move on yet he will never be forgotten. He was a very blessed man and you all were a very blessed family to have had him in your lives. May God Bless you all…
Thank you Connie. 🙂
To the Reed Family-
So sorry for your loss. I had the pleasure of working with George at Spitz for many years.
Thank you – I have fond memories of driving to Spitz to pick my dad up when I wanted his car during the day! 😉
I was very sad to hear of your Dads passing, but happy for the beautiful life he lived, especially surrounded by such a wonderful loving family. I worked with your dad here at Spitz Inc. Your Mom and he would email me about their traveling adventures, especially on their trip to China. Very sorry for your loss.
Thank you Donna and you are right – he lived an amazing life!
Tara I’m so sorry to hear of your fathers passing and hope you move through the grieving process in a gentle way.
I understand how you lost your father a while ago but it hits you like a ton of bricks when you realize you didn’t really loose him until Aug 2. Because he was always there to hold your hand and to talk to even if the communication was a bit lopsided. That comes as a bit of a surprise because you think that their passing is something you are prepared for. I experienced this when my Grandmother passed.
I’m so happy that he ended his journey surround by the ones he loved and you all had a really good day with him. You just can’t ask for a better way to say goodbye.
Take care… I enjoyed your book and having you blaze a trail as I am unfortunately Going down the same path with my father. Thank you!
Thank you Dawn!
I am so sorry for your loss! You have been so unselfish in bringing “us” along your journey. Now, we all mourn for and with you! Please know that I will be praying for you and your family in the days to come. God bless.
Thank you Gayla! 🙂
On the passing of George Reed
December 26, 2016
Yesterday I caught up a little on my reading and spotted a tribute on page 98 of the December, 2016 Planetarian bringing the sad news of the passing of George Reed.
George had always called our collective attention to Isaac Newton, who was born on December 25; how ironic that I learned of George’s passing on that same date.
I first met George on entering the planetarium field in the 1970’s. He was the most intense and dynamic speaker I had heard at a planetarium conference, George seemed to know the answer to just about any question that could come up in our profession, often giving the answer in a personal yet philosophical way. George always professed that every topic without limit was related to astronomy, and I recall how he challenged us to find a subject that was not related to astronomy. We never could. This was a lesson not to be forgotten.
George Reed’s cartoons adorned my offices at work and at home and were always enjoyed by audiences in the planetarium and by students as well. George was a consummate expert on Isaac Newton and had conducted tours of England to visit sites related to Newton’s life. Besides the many cartoons, columns, and even an historical novel about Newton (Murdered by Isaac Newton), one of the most interesting books I’ve ever read was George’s “Dark Sky Legacy,” a book worth reading over and over again for the nuggets still to be found there.
Above all, George was beyond a doubt the only person I could ever think of who I had spontaneously referred to as my “mentor” in the field. Early in my career I recall asking George a question reflecting disconnect between what I wanted to do with my planetarium and the much smaller role envisioned by my employer.
George’s simple yet philosophical reply, “instead of doing all you know that you can do, just be the very best at what they want you to do and you will find satisfaction” rang true over and over again through almost four decades at the console. They were the best professional advice I had ever gotten.
All of us have lost a colleague who was a true gentleman, gifted with a vivid personality and a sparkling wit that was freely shared. His dark eyes and his smile could invigorate a room full of people, whether George’s colleagues or his students. It’s difficult to describe the feeling of elation and humility on being asked by George to teach and train future planetarium people at his Spitz Summer Planetarium Workshop.
Our field shall not see the likes of such a gifted and generous professional for a very long time. Thank you, George, for the gifts you taught us.
Thank you for your comments – as his daughter it is interesting to hear how he touched others, from students to colleagues and more, during his lifetime.
He always said “A king is never appreciated in his own castle” as we rolled our eyes at yet another Isaac Newton story at the dinner table growing up.
He was very missed this Christmas but I find myself looking at the stars more than I ever did before and having a little chat with him!
I worked with your Dad at Spitz while I was serving as staff astronomer. He was truly “a gentleman and a scholar” in the finest sense of the word. (I posted this same comment on the International Planetarium Society’s “Dome-L” site after reading Sam Storch’s tribute.) With sympathy, Jim
Thank you Jim – all these comments mean so much to me and my family.
I just stumbled upon your blog while doing a Google search for your dad. I was one of his students, taking any class that I could with him from 1989-1993. He was an educator different from any that I ever had! From coming to campus at night for some star-gazing, to making dinner for us at the end of the semester (ok…your mom made it, and I stepped into the kitchen to assist!), to taking the time to talk to me about my future teaching aspirations. Thanks to your dad, I wanted to teach science, and Astronomy is my first love! I learned about science from him, of course, but I also learned how to be the type of educator that makes a difference! My dream trip is to see Stonehenge, since I couldn’t afford to take the trip with your dad and his class to England while I was in college. I think of him every time I share that thought, as he is the reason for my obsession with those large stones!
George Reed changed my life, and how I look at my favorite subject. I’m sorry to read that you all suffered through a slow decline, but glad that you had special time at the end, as I’m sure that you did throughout your life. Thank you for sharing your journey, and allowing me to share mine. Your father is a man that I will never forget, and I am honored to have had the time with him!
Like Staci, I was a student at WCU, ironically also from 1989-1993. I took astronomy as a science requirement but ended up taking several courses with your dad even as free electives, including a graduate level class! I’ll never forget how he taught us to UNDERSTAND matters and even had to think in times of past and PROVE that the sun revolved around the earth on an exam. I also remember the dinner– feast that he and your mother prepared at the completion of the semester. with Fosters beer brandishing the Southern Cross of course, for those of age that is. He also told us to mark our calendars forward every year for the November 1999 meteor shower which I drove to ocean city NJ to observe as philly was overcast. One of the most memorable nights I reccan recall, all bc ot your dad. I wish social media existed back then as I like to believe I would have stayed in touch with him after graduation. I am sorry for your loss and the loss of everyone who was touched by your dad.
John – thank you for taking the time to comment on this blog post – all of the memories shared mean so much to me and my family. I’m sure my dad would have loved to know just how much of an impact he had on his students, even decades later.
I’m so happy and so sad to have found your tribute to your dad.
I was in his Astronomy class at WCU in 1983. I always had an interest in the stars and was more than a little intimidated when I realized all of the mathematics involved in the course.
Your dad was a remarkable teacher. Not only did I conquer the math, but I can still name about a dozen constellations and stars. Of course, I will always remember Mintaka on Orion’s Belt because he told us about a million times that Mintaka was his dog’s name.
He invited my two roommates and me to be guests on his Sunday Morning radio show. We were Criminal Justice majors and we discussed the effects of the full moon on crime.
The interest he took in me and in all of his students was inspirational. I will never forget him and I am so very sorry that he is no longer with us.
My deepest condolences to you and your family.
Thank you so much for taking the time to comment – I’ve shared it with my mom, sister & brother. Hearing how my dad impacted his students has been very touching.
Your father was one of the best teachers I ever had. I modeled my practice after his classroom. I LOVED his History of Astronomy course. I still remember he started each class with a picture of himself standing in the doorway of a famous astronomer. I loved his stories. What a wonderful man and a great legacy.
Thank you so much for your comment – I’ve shared it with my mom, sister & brother. I’ve never heard about him starting class with a photo of himself in doorways of famous astronomers! (I do however remember seeing them – we all went through Europe for 4 months when I was in second grade. I say I saw where every famous Astronomer was born, worked, died & were buried.)
It was a with a great deal of sadness that I discovered this tribute. I came across it because it is 20 years since a group of young adults, many of whom were fresh out of university, came together as new employees of the National Space Centre, Leicester, UK. We’ve been friends ever since and we have been considering if we can have an anniversary reunion once lock down is over. In thinking back to that massively influential time I was wondering what had happened to my friend and mentor George Reed.
He interviewed me for the post – sitting quietly in the corner of the room, not saying anything until he asked a devil of a question which, thanks to astronomy courses I’d been teaching in the weeks prior to the interview, I was able to answer. That helped secure me the job. The offices where that interview took place are now a blood donor centre and I think back to those early days whenever I’m donating.
When we moved up to the newly built Space Centre, George and I sat next to each other and would chat about all sorts of things. He was always open, honest, good humoured and full of wit and wisdom. Even though I had several years of stargazing and planetarium presenting experience under my belt compared to many of the newbies, he always had something he could share, some good suggestions on how to improve things or some additional flourishes or stories that could be added. He was always kind, considerate and nurturing. He had a way of making you see things differently and getting you to question your youthfully staunch opinions. He was a tremendous influence.
We were all sad when he decided that he’d done all that he could and that it was time to leave Leicester and return home. He left an indelible imprint on our lives and we’ll raise a glass to him when we do get to meet up again – hopefully in Space Centre that he helped to shape.
In the meantime I’ll go and find my signed copy of Dark Sky Legacy, along with his book about Herschel’s sister and the photo of George and I with Venetia Burney – the lady who named Pluto – who George doggedly hunted down so we could celebrate her contribution to the story of astronomy.
Rest in peace George
Thank you so much – from me and my whole family – for taking the time to share these memories, brought tears to my eyes. My son, then 8, and I went to visit them in Leicester before the Space Centre was open – hard to believe it was 20 years ago!
Sorry I am so late with this (like REALLY late). Just last evening, I was watching a Nova special on the Milky Way, and was reminded of the intro to astronomy class I took as an elective at West Chester many years ago, and I thought of Dr. Reed, one of my favorite professors. I still remember his humor, his tremendous teaching ability, and his obvious love of astronomy, and of his students. I loved his class. I remember that he knew I was interested in photography, and offered to meet whoever was interested for an astro-photography session at the south campus. Only 2 of us showed up, but he spent hours with us, sharing his love of astronomy.
I was sad to see that he passed, until I read your tribute to him. He really did live an amazing life. Thank you for sharing a bit of his life with us.
Thank you so much for your comment. Did my dad tell you he built a dark room in our basement? I have fond memories of developing pictures with him under the red light growing up. He definitely lived an amazing life and is missed.
I was a music major at West Chester State College ’82. Dr. Reed was a fascinating man who made the vast night sky come to life. I fondly recall field observations at the South Campus with his well worn Celestron C8 telescope.
I still have a mint condition Cosmic Startoons poster. Let me know if any of his family would like to have it.
Thank you so much for your comment and that’s amazing that you still have a Cosmic Startoons poster! I remember helping roll and package those at our dining room table when they were being sold and shipped all over. Thank you for the offer but we all have framed copies.