Ogden Rogers Reid, former newspaper editor and publisher, six-term Congressman, and beloved husband of Mary Louise Reid, died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Waccabuc, N.Y., on March 2, 2019. He was 93.
Born in New York City in 1925 to Helen (Rogers) and Ogden Mills Reid, he was nicknamed “Brownie” after his brother “Whitie”. He graduated from The Buckley School and Deerfield Academy.
In 1943, he enlisted in the United States Army, ultimately serving in the 11th Airborne Division during World War II. After he was discharged as a First Lieutenant in 1945, he attended Yale University, graduating in 1949.
He married Mary Louise Stewart in 1949, and joined the family’s newspaper, The New York Herald Tribune, starting as mail clerk and moving up to reporter and photographer. In 1953, he succeeded his older brother, Whitelaw Reid, as Publisher and Editor. The paper was sold to John Hay Whitney in 1958.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed Mr. Reid as United States Ambassador to the State of Israel, where he worked with Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion on the first defense support arrangements between the two nations. After returning home in 1961, Governor Nelson Rockefeller appointed him to the New York State Commission for Human Rights.
In 1962, he was elected as a Republican Congressman representing Westchester County, and subsequently served six terms. He ran as a Democratic candidate for his final term because he could not support President Richard Nixon and the continuation of the Vietnam War effort. During his time in Congress, he was a supporter of anti-poverty programs; instrumental civil rights legislation, including as sponsor of the Voting Rights Act of 1965; urban renewal programs; protections against housing discrimination; and laws to safeguard against judicial attacks on the rights of reporters.
For many years, he worked tirelessly on legislation creating the Head Start Program for early childhood education that passed both Houses of Congress but was ultimately vetoed by President Nixon. In February 1965, he traveled to Selma, Alabama, to help win the release from jail of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. at the time of the first Selma civil rights march.
Mr. Reid unsuccessfully entered the race for the Democratic nomination for Governor in 1974 and was subsequently appointed Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in the Hugh Carey administration. He resigned in 1977 after a disagreement with the Governor over a DEC lawsuit filed against General Electric to halt their discharge of highly-toxic chemicals into the Hudson River. General Electric was ultimately required to cease further pollution and to fund the cleanup of the river. In 1983, Mr. Reid mounted his last political campaign, but his bid for Westchester County Executive was unsuccessful.
“Our father had enormous compassion and vision, which enabled him to see solutions to problems decades in advance of normal political culture,” said Stewart Reid, the eldest of Ogden Reid’s six children. “He was an early supporter of civil rights, protecting the environment, and providing Federal day care, and an early opponent of apartheid. In all that he did, he was supported by our mother, Mary Louise Reid, his wife of 70 years.”
After entering private life, he served on a number of public and private boards and was able to spend more time pursuing his lifelong love of sailing at American Yacht Club and beyond. He is survived by his wife, Mary Louise Reid; six children: Stewart Mills Reid, Michael Whitelaw Reid, William Rogers Reid, Elisabeth Reid Taylor, Ogden Mills Reid, and David Whitelaw Reid; and nineteen grandchildren. His elder brother, Whitelaw Reid, predeceased him in 2009, as did his sister, Elisabeth, in 1924.
A funeral service will be held March 9 at 10 a.m. at Rye Presbyterian Church.
In keeping with Ogden Reid’s love of animals and the environment, and his desire to help inner-city children, donations in his memory may be made to: the World Wildlife Fund, the Environmental Defense Fund, or the Fresh Air Fund, sponsored for many years by The New York Herald Tribune, to provide summer outdoor experiences for low-income communities in New York State.