Navy marine engineer Alan Reid of Columbia dies of tumor His work included outfitting USNS Comfort

August 06, 1993|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Staff Writer

Alan R. Reid, a U.S. Navy marine engineer whose work included outfitting the hospital ship USNS Comfort, died yesterday of a brain tumor in Stella Maris Hospice in Cockeysville. He was 43.

Mr. Reid, a Columbia resident for 21 years, worked 22 years as a civilian marine engineer, most of that time for the Military Sealift Command directing construction and re-fitting of military support ships. Since 1983, he had been director of the Ship Introduction Division at the command's headquarters at the Washington Navy Yard.

"There's an awful lot of people in the Navy and in the marine industry that had developed a tremendous respect for his knowledge and his leadership," said James E. McDiarmid, who had worked with Mr. Reid since 1986 and is now acting director of the division.

Mr. Reid directed the construction or conversion of about 100 ships, ranging from cargo ships to fleet oilers to surveillance ships.

Under Mr. Reid's direction, two tankers were converted into the hospital ships USNS Mercy and the Baltimore-based USNS Comfort. They were among many launched from Mr. Reid's division that provided support during the Persian Gulf war and the relief mission to Somalia.

On March 9, Mr. Reid was awarded the Superior Civilian Service Award by Vice Adm. Michael P. Kalleres, MSC commander.

Mr. Reid was a lieutenant commander in the Navy Reserve until March 1988, when he was honorably discharged for medical reasons.

At home, Mr. Reid volunteered as a coach for the Columbia Soccer Association and the Columbia Youth Basketball Association when his sons Jarrett, now 19, and Stephen, who turns 17 this month, and their fellow players needed him.

"Whenever they didn't have a coach, Alan said, 'Sure I'll do it,' " said Mr. Reid's wife, Elaine.

Even after being disabled by his first operation to treat his tumor in 1986, Mr. Reid volunteered to be den leader for the Cub Scout pack of his 9-year-old son Jason.

"We said, 'Alan, you have a brain tumor,' and he'd say, 'No, no, no; I'll do it,' " Mrs. Reid said. "Jason was really proud of that."

Mr. Reid was also the "biggest fan" of his daughter Ilyse, 11, who plays basketball and softball.

He was a member of Beth Shalom Congregation at the Owen Brown Interfaith Center. He had served as its treasurer, and even sang and danced for fund-raisers.

He was a master bridge player, playing in tournaments in the Baltimore-Washington area, and an avid Redskins fan.

"He also loved to play stickball, like we used to play in New York," Mrs. Reid said.

After work, he also enjoyed playing football with children who lived near their home. "All the neighborhood kids used to play football in the street after his work. The kids would wait for him to come home, and they'd go out and play football."

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Mr. Reid was a graduate of MacArthur High School in Wantaugh, Long Island. In 1971, he graduated from the Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y.

A week later, Mr. Reid married the former Elaine Wosk and began working as a civilian for the U.S. Navy after their honeymoon.

"Our grandparents came over from Europe together and kept in touch," Mrs. Reid said of their courtship. "You know the story: 'Have I got a grandson for you!' I said, 'Ha, ha,' and Alan called me up and that was it."

Services for Mr. Reid were to be conducted at 1 p.m. today at Temple Beth Shalom.

In addition to his wife and four children, Mr. Reid is survived by his mother, Bunny Reid of Littleton, Colo.; his sister, Carol Shirley of Okinawa, Japan; and his grandfather, Max Tauchner of Tamarac, Fla.

The family suggests memorial contributions to the Beth Shalom Building Fund of Howard County, P.O. Box 2878, Columbia 21045.

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