In Memoriam: Loren Reid

Reid, Loren

Dr. Loren D. Reid, the 43rd president of the National Communication Association (1957), passed away on December 25, 2014, at the age of 109. Born in 1905 and a native of Gilman City, Missouri, Professor Reid was a graduate of Grinnell College and received his Ph.D. in 1932 from the University of Iowa, (one of the first doctoral degrees in Speech awarded in the United States). His doctoral advisor was A. Craig Baird, NCA’s 24th president. Dr. Reid joined the Department of Speech and Dramatic Art (now the Department of Communication) at the University of Missouri in 1944, just four years after the department was founded. He remained a member of the Missouri faculty until his retirement in 1975, which ended a remarkable 31-year career as a teacher-scholar.

A significant and successful rhetorical scholar, Professor Reid authored the influential essay “The Perils of Rhetorical Criticism” in the Quarterly Journal of Speech, 1944, edited the important 1961 collection American Public Address: Studies in Honor of Albert Craig Baird, and authored Charles James Fox: A Man of the People in 1969, a book published by the University of Missouri Press that received NCA’s Golden Anniversary Book Award and the association’s Winans-Wichelns Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Rhetoric and Public Address.  Rare among Communication scholars, Reid’s research earned him an appointment as a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

As a teacher and mentor for generations of students at Missouri and those from colleges and universities across the nation, Reid personified the ideal “speech teacher.” Former NCA President Steven Beebe noted of his former teacher and mentor, “He was an inspiration to me and countless others during his legendary career as an educator, scholar, and academic leader…Thank you, Professor Reid, for illuminating my life and the light of so many others.”

Loren Reid’s long-time service to NCA and to the Communication discipline has no parallel. His leadership included service as both President and Executive Secretary of the National Communication Association (NCA) and Executive Secretary of the Central States Communication Association (CSCA). In 1981, Professor Reid received the NCA Distinguished Service Award, in 2002 he received an NCA Mentor Award, and in 2005 he was inducted into the CSCA Hall of Fame. Reid was also a founder of both the Speech and Theatre Association of Missouri and the New York State Speech Communication Association. A true champion of the discipline, Reid optimistically dedicated his time and considerable energy to the betterment of his students, the universities he called home, and the discipline he worked so hard to establish and maintain. He truly personified NCA founder and first President James O’Neill’s charge in 1915: “Those who take part in all the work that is before us can with better grace and better appetite enjoy whatever benefits this work produces.”