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Former editor of the Mail Tribune dies

John Reid Jr. was an AHS grad and started his journalism career as a Tidings reporter
 Posted: 2:00 AM August 17, 2013

Former Mail Tribune Editor John Reid Jr., who got his start as a reporter at the Daily Tidings, died Sunday, Aug. 11, following a decades-long struggle with Parkinson's disease. He was 67.

Reid worked in various editor roles at the Mail Tribune for nearly 30 years and led the newsroom from 1982 to 1992, first as managing editor and then as editor. After joining the Tribune in 1977, he served as local news editor for four years, then assistant managing editor, managing editor and editor. In his final years at the paper, he was an associate editor and wrote editorials for the opinion page.

"John was a gifted writer and a poet and a strong editor," said current Mail Tribune Editor Bob Hunter. "He pushed the paper and the news staff to do more and do better and really was the driver who turned the Mail Tribune into a modern newspaper.

"Beyond that, he was a good guy who cared about the staff. And we cared about him and saw how he persevered while he fought a really horrible disease."

Reid was diagnosed with Parkinson's, a degenerative nerve disease, when he was 35 years old, but continued working for more than two decades after the diagnosis.

Reid, who was born March 15, 1946, was a 1964 graduate of Ashland High School. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1965, serving as a radarman on a guided missile destroyer for four years, including in the Mediterranean Sea during the Israeli-Arab Six-Day War.

Following his Navy service, Reid enrolled at Southern Oregon College, where he earned a bachelor's degree in humanities. He began his journalism career as a reporter for the Daily Tidings, then moved to a reporting position with the Klamath Falls Herald & News prior to joining the Mail Tribune.

During his tenure as editor, the Mail Tribune and its staffers won numerous awards. The most prestigious of those was the 1990 American Society of Newspaper Editors national award for Best Newspaper Writing earned by reporter Terrie Claflin, who worked closely with Reid in developing a five-story package about a baby who was doomed from birth because of her mother's drug use.

Reid is survived by a son, John Reid III, of Medford; two daughters, Erin Reid Engelhart and Megan Blaylock, both of Medford; a brother, Tom Reid, of Ashland; and a sister, Laurie Carlson, of Talent. He was preceded in death by his wife, Karen.

A memorial service is planned for 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 26, at the First Presbyterian Church of Ashland, 1615 Clark Ave.

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