Posted 1/27/2014 12:00 am
Updated 10 months ago
In a life dedicated to his family and his farm, Stanley E. Reed also managed to serve his fellow farmers of Arkansas, his state, his country and the world. Many forces pulled at him — practicing law, public service — but the pull that always had a hold on him and the one that won out was the pull to be a dirt-under-his-fingernails farmer. Reed, who died July 15, 2011, became that while managing to also be much more.
The traits that served Reed throughout his life were instilled in him from the time he was very young. He was always genuine, someone people could believe and trust.
Born Aug. 1, 1951, in Milan, Tenn., Reed grew up in Marianna where his father farmed about 300 acres. Reed was salutatorian when he graduated from Marianna’s T.A. Futrall High School in 1969. He went to the University of Arkansas, where he earned a bachelor’s of science in agricultural engineering with highest honors. While an undergraduate, Reed was president of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, president of the interfraternity council, president of Cardinal XX Honorary Society and a member of Blue Key Honor Society.
Reed married Charlene Berner, also an Arkansas graduate, on June 16, 1973.
Reed graduated from the University of Arkansas School of Law with highest honors in 1976. In August 1976, Reed scored the highest grade on the Arkansas Bar Exam. He and Charlene moved back to Marianna, where he established a one-man law practice, but the pull of farming was strong once he was back home.
In 1978, he rented farmland in Mississippi with his father and started scaling back his law practice. Always looking for an opportunity closer to home, Reed rented land in Arkansas’ St. Francis County in 1986 and began expanding, eventually farming 8,000-10,000 acres.
Reed’s involvement with Arkansas Farm Bureau began around that time. He was president of the Lee County Farm Bureau board from 1982-1984 and, in 1987, he won a district position on the Arkansas Farm Bureau Board of Directors. He served on the board for 21 years.
Reed spent six years as secretary-treasurer and four years as vice president. He was elected president in 2003 and led the organization until stepping down in 2008. His position placed him on the board of directors for Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance of Arkansas, Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company and the Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company, where he served as vice chairman from 2006-2009.
Throughout his time in Farm Bureau leadership roles, Reed saw changes sweep through agriculture and used his engineering, law and public service skills to help fellow farmers. He worked tirelessly promoting agriculture, rural Arkansas and farm families. He understood the need to improve trade relations with foreign markets for Arkansas’ agricultural products and led agricultural missions to Brazil, Cuba, Panama, Peru, Japan, Russia, Rwanda, South Korea and Taiwan. He also served five years on the American Farm Bureau board of directors, beginning in 2004.
The Reed farm is now a 5,500-acre operation producing cotton and soybeans in Lee and St. Francis counties. The Reed family was named Lee County Farm Family of the Year in 1984, and Reed was inducted into the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame in March 2012.
Though his professional life focused on farming, Reed never lost his love for education and public service through education. Gov. Mike Huckabee appointed Reed to the University of Arkansas board of trustees where he served from 1998-2008. He was chairman for his final two years on the board.
Reed was co-chairman of the University of Arkansas Campaign for the 21st Century and served on the university’s Agricultural Engineering Advisory Board. He was honored in 2005 with a distinguished alumni award from the College of Engineering.
He was chairman of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Medicine Advisory board. UAMS established the Stanley E. Reed Memorial Chair in Emergency Medicine, Trauma and Injury Prevention. Arkansas Farm Bureau set up the Stanley Reed Leadership Award, which is presented to a young adult in the organization who demonstrates the type of leadership qualities Reed demonstrated.
Reed also was a commencement speaker for the Dale Bumpers College of Agriculture at the University of Arkansas, the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton, Black River Technical College, the University of Arkansas Cossatot Community College and the University of Arkansas Phillips Community College.
Also active in community affairs, Reed was a member of the First Baptist Church of Marianna, where he served as a deacon and was a youth and adult Sunday school teacher for more than 20 years. He was a member of Gideons International.
As a state and business leader, Reed served on the boards of Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the Arkansas World Trade Center board of advisors, Simmons First National Corp., the Razorback Foundation, the Brandon Burlsworth Foundation and the Romeo E. Short Foundation Scholarship Program.
He was a charter member of the Arkansas Academy of Biological and Agricultural Engineering and served on the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board, the State Support Committee for Cotton Research and was a past alternate board member of Cotton Incorporated. Reed was awarded the Harvey W. McGeorge Award for Outstanding Service to Agriculture by the Pine Bluff Rotary Club in 2009. He held an Honorary State FFA Degree and in 2008 was awarded an Honorary American FFA Degree.
Reed served on the Prison Chapel Facilities Fund board of directors and received the Arkansas Children’s Award from the Arkansas Sheriff’s Youth Ranches in 2008. He served on the school board for Lee Academy from 1992-1995.
Through it all, Reed’s family played a key role in his farming and in his life. By his side throughout the years was his wife Charlene. Their daughter Haley is a part-time teacher in Little Rock and is married to Andy Davis. They have three children – Anna Kate, Jack and Haven.
Reed’s son Nathan operates the family farm. He and his wife Kristin have twins, Jane-Anne and Eldon. Their youngest daughter Anna recently moved to South Carolina from Rwanda and works for an international non-profit agency. She previously worked at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock.