M. J. Edwards - Whitehaven Funeral Chapel

5494 Elvis Presley Blvd, Memphis, TN


Mr. William Henry Reed

February 28, 1927July 22, 2020

William Henry Reed, 93, passed peacefully in his Whitehaven home on July 22, 2020. He was a lifelong Memphian born February 28, 1927, to the late James and Theodora Reed, and the eldest of their three children. He married Leola Glover Reed on July 10,1949 and she preceded him in death on September 3, 1997.

William was educated at Geeter High School where he saw firsthand the educational experiences denied to him as a young Black male as compared to his White counterparts at Whitehaven High School. He went on to serve in the United States Army where he was stationed in France and served throughout Europe during World War II. Upon returning home from the war, he was met with virulent segregation and racism as he was not able to eat at certain places or even take his children to a nice park.

In the face of injustice, William resolved to make the country he risked his life for more equitable for all people. He spent the rest of his life blazing a trail for his family, his community, and all the citizens of Memphis. During the 1950s, he was instrumental in organizing the Whitehaven Civic Club (and served as its spokesperson), as well as the Whitehaven Junior Civic Club. These were member organizations of the Bluff City & Shelby County Council of Civic Clubs that fought for civil advancements for all people. He and other members of the Civic Club participated in sit-ins at segregated establishments, and boycotted Memphis' The Commercial Appeal newspaper until it agreed to address Black people as Mr. and Mrs. in its pages. Remembering the injustice of his own high school experience, William led the Civic Club in challenging the Shelby County Department of Education on segregated schools through years of protesting. In the end, William and Leola Reed's children integrated Whitehaven High School. Their eldest son, William Bernard was the first Black graduate in 1967, followed by his younger siblings Alwyn and Edwin.

William retired from International Harvester after 32 years of dedicated service. He was a member of Mt. Joyner Baptist Church, where he served as a trustee, deacon, and Sunday school and Bible study teacher. He was a mentor and inspiration to scores of people under his wing, such as Shelby County Mayor, Lee Harris, Esq.; University of Tennessee at Martin Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Dr. Mark McCloud; and many more who continued to seek his counsel throughout their careers.

Above all, William's faith in God was the driving force behind all he did. William enjoyed encouraging all he met and imparting wisdom on to those near and far. His endless array of wise sayings will continue to touch all that knew him for years to come. William was a lifelong learner and entrepreneur. After retirement, he started a real estate business, Reed & Reed Properties, and continued to trade stocks in his 90s. A true Renaissance man, William had a particular penchant for the opera and was a faithful patron of the Memphis Opera for many years. He could often be found enjoying classical music as the music brought much peace and joy to his soul. He loved to travel and explore all God's earth had to offer - from the Grand Canyon to the pyramids in Egypt. William remained young at heart and grateful for every moment until he breathed his last.

William was a hero to many and will continue to be. He is survived by his children William B. Reed (wife, Carolyn), Edwin Reed (wife, Mary), and Alwyn Craig; brother Jimmy Reed, and sisters-in-law Virginia Glover, Elizabeth Glover, Geraldine G. Minley, Gwen Glover, and Hazell G. Jones; grandchildren Kara Hamilton (husband, Dave), Michael Reed (wife, Kwini), Jonathan Reed, Elkanah Reed (wife, Sierra), Byron Craig, Adia Reed, Kiah Craig, Keturah Reed; and great-grandchildren Paiten Craig, Arianna Craig, Ryland Hamilton, Mackenzie Reed, Mateo Reed, and Ezra Reed.

A public viewing will be held on August 4, 2021 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at M.J. Edwards Whitehaven Funeral Chapel, 5494 Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, TN 38116.

In consideration for the care and safety of all those who loved William Reed, the family is postponing the larger memorial service until the spring of 2021.


  • Visitation

    Tuesday, August 4, 2020


Mr. William Henry Reed

have a memory or condolence to add?

Monique E Brown

August 4, 2020

Grandpa always took time for me each time he came to Queens. Grandpa taught me how to be a better landlord. Grandpa taught me how to choose which stocks to invest in. Grandpa told me that whomever I mentor, if they cannot take advice on their finances, their relationship with God, and their professional goals, I should tell them if I am not allowed to provide input in every aspect of their life why did they ask me to be their mentor.

Sandra Jenkins

August 3, 2020

Mr. Reed has been a wonderful friend and neighbor for many years. His family and parents are some of the original Black family pioneers that helped to integrate Whitehaven, TN. This is Black History. His mother whom I lovingly called Miss Theodora was an angel who lived on Earth. He was always an activist for what is right, who kept abreast of current events in the city and neighborhood. I have many memories, but one incident I remember occurred about 30 yrs. ago. A man lost control of his car on Whitehaven Lane, demolished our mailbox and kept driving on. Mr. Reed happened to be driving behind him, followed him, made him stop, and told him he saw what he had done. About 3 days later the man came to our door with a brand new mailbox, and an apology for what he'd done. This situation shows Mr. Reed's great character, his kindness, generosity, and concern for others. Back in the day my dad Mr. Jenkins, who was a community farmer, Mr. Reed, and Mr. Sinclair all liked to garden and grow stuff. I'll always remember Mr. Reed's jokes, his beautiful red roses, and him leaving tomatoes that he grew at our back door. He will be missed forever. Mr. Reed is respected, loved by many, and the community has lost a true inspiration. We love you Mr. Reed. God bless you always as you join your loved ones to go live in God's kingdom forever.
Sandra Jynell Jenkins, Friend, neighbor of 57 yrs.

Greg & Carmela Kidd

August 1, 2020

Daddy Reed was truly an anchor in our family. He held us close and together. We will truly miss him, but will look forward to seeing him again...

Love you Daddy Reed

Angela Lackland

July 30, 2020


Gloria Pryor

July 30, 2020

His passion for opera, photography, gardening, bible discussion, love of his rose garden but most of all family. Mr Reed, touched and blessed many throughout the years. He will forever be a cherished memory. His legacy lives on.

Angela Monger-Kerney

July 29, 2020

As a child and during my membership at Mt Joyner, I loved to hear his summary of the Sunday School lesson and the conversations and wisdom for navigating life, that he freely shared. My prayers are with his family during this season. He was definitely a versatile, articulate God fearing man of God that was a blessing to the Mt. Joyner family.
Angela Monger-Kerney

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