Paul J. Reed Jr. dies at age 91

Lawyer, political insider and city Jail Board president

September 04, 2010|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun

Paul J. Reed Jr., a retired lawyer and political insider who had been active in 3rd District politics during the 1950s and 1960s, died Aug. 27 of heart failure at Oak Crest Village retirement community.

The former North Baltimore resident was 91.

Mr. Reed, the son of a plumber and a homemaker, was born in Baltimore and raised in East Baltimore.

He was a 1938 graduate of Polytechnic Institute and earned his law degree in 1941 from what is now the University of Baltimore.

He enlisted in the Army in 1942 and, after serving as a combat officer in Europe, was assigned at war's end as a prosecutor and later a military judge in Frankfurt, Germany. He also oversaw the operation of the U.S. Army jail in Frankfurt-on-Main.

Discharged with the rank of captain in 1946, he returned to Baltimore and established a general law practice and became active in 3rd District Democratic politics.

He ran in 1951 for the City Council and lost. But he rose through the political ranks, serving as acting chairman of the Maryland delegation to the 1956 Democratic Convention that was held in Chicago.

Mr. Reed lost a bid to be City Council president against Thomas J. D'Alessandro III by a single vote in a non-public council election in 1962.

Mr. Reed, who was aligned for years with political bosses Willie Curran and James H. "Jack" Pollock, enjoyed the role of political insider.

An article in 1965 in The Evening Sun described Mr. Reed as "a cool and unexcitable personality perfectly fitted for behind the scenes political juggling," and a "political operator in the grand Baltimore tradition [who] admits a liking for anonymity."

He explained his role in the article as being one "who helps people get elected."

Mr. Reed managed George P. Mahoney's 1966 losing campaign when former Baltimore County Executive Spiro T. Agnew was elected governor.

In 1969, then-Mayor Thomas D'Alessandro III appointed Mr. Reed to the Baltimore City Jail Board, and the following year, he was named board president.

He resigned the post in 1972, and H. Mebane Turner, who was president of the University of Baltimore, was named his replacement by then-Mayor William Donald Schaefer.

Gov. Marvin Mandel later appointed him to the Governor's Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice, and the old Supreme Bench of Baltimore City appointed him a special commissioner of the Baltimore City Circuit Court.

Mr. Reed, who was a co-founder in 1955 of the Baltimore chapter of the Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, served as counsel for many years and was president from 1977 to 1978.

Mr. Reed retired in 1990. He enjoyed sailing and fishing from his 31-foot Bertram and spending time at a second home in Ocean City. He was a golfer and a member of the Country Club of Maryland.

Mr. Reed was a former parishioner of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.

A Mass of Christian burial was offered Aug. 30 in the chapel at Oak Crest Village, where he had lived since 2007.

Surviving are his wife of 65 years, the former Delores O'Brien; a son, James D. Reed of Timonium; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Another son, Paul J. Reed III, died in 1976.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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