A Lot of Things about Jim Lee Reed Were Big
Big Family. Big Man. Big Heart
And His Death Has Left a Big Void

Casa Grande Dispatch [Phoenix AZ]
Downloaded June 19, 2003

Reed, 43, a carpenter specializing in highway construction work, was killed while jaywalking Saturday night in a Phoenix hit-and-run accident that led to a felony charge of leaving the scene of a fatal accident against Phoenix Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien.

Family members said Reed, a father of two, was visiting family at a Phoenix apartment and was crossing a street on his way to a bus to go home when he was hit.

Investigators said O'Brien's car hit him first. He was then struck by a second vehicle.

"He was just nice and kind," said Elsie Salt, who got to know Reed through her brother, Ervin, who was friends with him.

Reed, who was 6 feet tall and weighed at least 235 pounds, grew up with Ervin Salt on the Navajo Reservation, where many of Reed's siblings and cousins still live. His mother lives in Flagstaff.

Reed, 43, had lived in Phoenix for 16 years, and Stan Crisher, business representative and financial secretary of Carpenter's Union Local 408 in Phoenix, had known him for almost that entire time. Crisher considered him a good friend.

"He was a great guy. Easygoing. A very large individual, but easygoing; he liked to joke, pull a little prank sometimes, always had a smile on his face," Crisher said.

Reed's fiancee, Gloria Begay, and his relatives and close friends sought to grieve among themselves and keep their distance from the media Tuesday, Crisher and Salt said.

The family remained sequestered and members were on their way to Tuba City, where funeral services were set for 10 a.m. Thursday at the Assembly of God Church, to be followed by burial in Flagstaff, Crisher said.

Salt said family meant a great deal to Reed and that he had been looking forward to Father's Day on Sunday.

Reed and Begay, who were together for several years, had planned to be married about a year from now, Crisher said. "This kind of dashed those dreams."

Salt recalled Reed as "a very gentle person, laughing, joking. He had a good sense of humor."

Crisher said Reed also liked rodeo and had done a lot of riding and roping as a younger man.

Reed joined the union in January 1987, working in an apprenticeship program for four years, during which he and Crisher got to know each other well.

Reed's preference for working on highway construction, building overpasses, culverts and concrete forms, earned him a nickname: "Heavy Highway," Crisher said.

"He felt comfortable doing heavy highway construction, actually form work itself, putting up the wood or gang panels to hold the wet concrete," he added.

Begay, Reed's fiancee, called Sunday, "just devastated," Crisher said. "It's just a loss. It's very difficult to comprehend."


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