Stanley Reed of Marianna, the Arkansas Farm Bureau president from 2003-2008 who had been a finalist this week for president of the University of Arkansas System, died in a one-vehicle crash Friday morning.
According to Arkansas State Police Spokesman Bill Sadler, the crash scene was on U.S. Highway 64, one mile east of Augusta. Arkansas State Trooper Kurt Zigenhorn was sent to the scene at 9:53 a.m. following a report electronically sent from the Woodruff County Sheriff's Department.
State Police said Reed, 59, was the lone occupant of his 2003 Cadillac Escalade, heading east on the highway. Zigenhorn said he believed Reed was returning to Marianna from a farm supply business at Augusta.
State Police said Reed's vehicle left the roadway without any evidence of attempting to brake or skid, crossed a ditch, traveled more than 300 feet and struck a tree.
Reed was pronounced dead at the scene. A preliminary fatal crash summary report said he was not wearing a seat belt. Reed's body was sent to Rhodes and Son Funeral Home in Marianna.
State Police said an investigative report won't be completed until next week.
Reed is survived by his wife, Charlene; their children Haley, Nathan and Anna; and their three grandchildren.
Gov. Mike Beebe said Friday that he was "shocked" to hear of Reed's death. He called Reed a "staunch advocate for Arkansas farmers and farm families."
"He was known for his dedication and commitment, and his voice will be missed," Beebe said.
U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., who won the Senate seat that Reed ran for in during the 2010 election cycle, said Arkansas had lost "a true friend and champion."
"Stanley’s friendship has meant a great deal to me over the years and his wisdom and example has had tremendous influence on so many," he said."My thoughts and prayers go out to Charlene and the Reed family today," U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., said in a news release. "Stanley Reed was a longtime champion for rural Arkansas and farm families in our state. He was a strong family man and was devout in his faith. He will be sorely missed."
Arkansas Farm Bureau President Randy Veach of Manila (Mississippi County), said the Farm Bureau family had lost "a gracious man."
"Stanley Reed stood for everything that is good and just about this organization. He was a man of integrity, compassion and faith," Veach said.
"He guided our organization through a time of challenging change, particularly as we restructured our business interests to better support the needs of our membership. His legal background and awareness were vital during this process."
"He made a real contribution in Arkansas," Randy Zook, president and CEO of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce/Associated Industries of Arkansas, told ArkansasBusiness.com. The two organizations often worked closely.
"Stanley was a first-rate citizen," Zook said.
Former Gov. Mike Huckabee appointed Reed to the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees in 1998, where he served until 2008. On Friday, Huckabee said Reed "always had a heart of service."
"He was a great guy to be around whether in a duck blind or a board room and he will be greatly missed ..." Huckabee said.
B. Alan Sugg, the president of the University of Arkansas System, said he was "deeply saddened by the unexpected loss of my friend.
"The pain of his passing is felt across the University of Arkansas System family. He served our state and university with honor and distinction in numerous roles and always carried himself with class and decency," Sugg said. "He was an outstanding trustee and businessman, a wonderful husband and father, and an extraordinarily kind person."
UA Chancellor G. David Gearhart said he and wife Jane were "shocked and heartbroken" about Reed's death.
"He served our state so well, for so long, and in so many ways," Gearhart said. "Whether it was in business, higher education, at the Capitol, or in civic and community life, Stanley got things done. He loved our state and committed himself, in numerous ways, to its continued betterment."
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Stanley Reed," Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said, via Twitter.
Mark Martin, Arkansas Secretary of State, offered prayers for Reed's family.
"Arkansas has lost a great leader and a tireless advocate for our agricultural and business communities," Martin said, via Twitter.
The state Republican Party also expressed condolences via Twitter, saying, "We have lost a true friend and beloved Arkansan in Stanley Reed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, family and friends."
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At the time of his death, Reed was on the boards of Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Simmons National Bank Corp. of Pine Bluff, the Arkansas World Trade Center Board of Advisors and the Brandon Burlsworth Foundation.
He previously served as a board member for Baptist Health, Cotton Incorporated and the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Committee. He was as a member of the AFBF Trade Advisory Committee.
Reed ran for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate during the last election cycle, but withdrew from the race in December 2009 for health reasons.
Reed defeated David Hillman of Almyra to be president of the Arkansas Farm Bureau in December 2003. He had been vice president of the nonprofit advocacy organization since 1999. He also had served the Farm Bureau as secretary/treasurer for six years and has been on the board for more than 15 years.