HARRISVILLE, R.I. – Donald J. Reid, 95 1/2, died peacefully April 5, 2018 surrounded by his loving family.
He was the first to say, “I’ve lived a good life.” And to those who knew him well, he certainly did.
Donald believed in telling it like it was, coined the term “moderation” when it came to everything in life, and was a highly-respected popcorn and cabinet maker (a milkshake to non Rhode-Islanders) to his many grandchildren. But above all, he loved his family.
He was born on August 29, 1922, to the late William and Annie (Pollitt) Reid in Douglas, Mass. Donald, the youngest of three, loved to pull pranks on older brothers, David and William, on the family’s apple orchard and dairy farm, and also loved spending time swimming at nearby Wallum Lake.
He graduated from Burrillville High School in 1942, but not before he met the love of his life, Shirley D. (Dickson) Reid. Their relationship endured Donald’s two-and-half-year tour in the Pacific for the U.S. Navy during World War II, where he served on the destroyer escort, U.S.S Dionne.
Upon return, the two married in 1946 where they settled in Harrisville, R.I. Together, they raised six children, Douglas and his wife Patricia of Sutton, Mass., David and his wife Sue Ellen of Hazel Green, Wis., Duncan and his wife Linda of Cortland, Ohio, William (who passed away in 1959), Daniel and his wife Susan of Oregon, Wis., and Deborah and her husband Ray of Gorham, Maine.
Donald worked for Stillwater Worsted Textile Mill in Harrisville, American Standard in Plainfield, Conn., Fenwal Corp. formerly in Ashland, Mass., and as the director of facilities for the Burrillville School Department for 15 years until his retirement in 1986. He and Shirley were long-time members of Berean Baptist Church, loved square dancing, camping, and traveling the country to visit their children and grandchildren.
While spending time in the sun wasn’t one of Donald’s favorite pastimes – especially after living so close to the Equator for a few years while in the Navy – he loved the summer months because that typically meant family get-togethers and reunions.
Donald tolerated the heat, sand, and sitting underneath the umbrella for a few hours at the family’s go-to beach, East Matunuck, just as long as he was able to spend some time in the shade with a younger-generation Reid.
He didn’t complain about getting up in the early morning hours to help start the fire pit at Hickory Hollow Farm (his brother William’s and sister-in-law Roddie’s home) and spending the afternoon swimming and conversing, just as long as he could enjoy the evening’s clambake with a little Southern Comfort and a spot next to Shirley as they admired their ever-growing family together.
And he certainly didn’t mind towing the trailer and setting up camp at Burlingame State Park in Charlestown, R.I., just as long as some grandchildren tagged along with him and Shirley for the week for some swimming, bike riding, UNO card playing, and S’more making by the campfire.
The love of his life, Shirley, passed in 2004 after 58 years of marriage. Soon after, Donald met Louise Sheldon, and the two continued their love of square dancing, travelling, and visiting friends and family. The partners enjoyed spending time with one another, especially at family events with both Donald’s children and grandchildren and with Louise’s daughters, Laurie and Janice, and their families.
He is also survived by 13 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren – the new loves of his life. He also leaves behind his dear friend of 90 years, George Surbuts. George and Donald met prior to grade school when they were 5 years old.
The family would like to thank Hope Hospice and Palliative Care Rhode Island, as well as the loving and caring staff at The Village at Waterman Lake in Greenville, R.I.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation be made in Donald’s memory to the Destroyer Escort Museum U.S.S. Slater in Albany, New York; (Destroyer Escort Historical Museum, Broadway and Quay, Albany, NY 12202) or Hope Hospice and Palliative Care Rhode Island (Hope Hospice and Palliative Care Rhode Island, 1085 North Main Street, Providence, Rhode Island 02904).
Friends and relatives are invited to attend the calling hours from 4-7 p.m. on Thursday, April 26 at Keene-Brown Funeral Home, 445 Greenville Road, N. Smithfield, R.I. The funeral service will be at 9 a.m., Friday, April 27, in the Berean Baptist Church, 474 Chapel St., Harrisville, R.I. Burial will follow in the Douglas Center Cemetery, Douglas, Mass.