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Harold Reed, former SEPTA bus driver and longtime Wynnewood front desk worker, dies at 77

“It’s a beautiful day!” Mr. Reed would say to tenants of Wynnewood House, without fail.

Harold Reed, 77, a longtime front desk worker known for his friendliness and kindness, died on Dec. 4, 2021.
Harold Reed, 77, a longtime front desk worker known for his friendliness and kindness, died on Dec. 4, 2021.Read moreCourtesy of Reed family

Harold Reed, 77, a SEPTA and Philadelphia school bus driver and a longtime front desk worker at a Wynnewood apartment complex where he always had a warm greeting for residents and visitors alike, died Saturday, Dec. 4, of a heart attack.

For more than 20 years, Mr. Reed worked at the front lobby at the Wynnewood House, a gig he described as the “job of a lifetime.” Each day, with a warm smile and donning his trademark Eagles jacket, he greeted everyone and often went beyond his duties, driving residents to and from appointments and to get groceries for those in need, his son Darrell Sr. told The Inquirer.

There was rarely a day where Mr. Reed would not flash a smile and welcome people with a familiar declaration.

“It’s a beautiful day!” he would say.

Mr. Reed was born on Aug. 24, 1943, in New York City. At age 4, he and his family moved to Elko, S.C., living there until he was 13.

Then, Mr. Reed and his mother moved to Philadelphia, where he went to New Salem Baptist Church and attended Vaux Jr. High School, before attending Benjamin Franklin High School. In high school, Mr. Reed played football and enlisted in the Army upon graduation.

He served in the Army from 1962 to 1964, where he rose to the rank of private first class and was honorably discharged.

After he was discharged, Mr. Reed married Barbara A. Mallory on March 27, 1965. The couple had two sons, Darrell A. Reed and Sean A. Reed. Mr. Reed had a daughter, Keva Wilson, with Josephine Wilson. He also had another son, Brian Farrier.

After separating from Mallory, Mr. Reed spent 22 years with his loving partner, Sharon Congleton.

As a father, Mr. Reed was tough, but determined to teach his children about the world, how to be respectful of all people, and how to navigate a difficult path, said his son Darrell A. Reed.

“He taught me about growing up as a Black man in America,” he said. “He made me understand the stuff he went through, as far as racism and all of that.”

A diehard Eagles and Sixers fan, Mr. Reed was not a fan of the Phillies for a specific reason that Darrell only found out about when he was in high school, after having attended countless games together. Mr. Reed revealed the truth: He was actually a Dodgers fan.

The reason? Mr. Reed told his son of the racist treatment Black baseball legend Jackie Robinson had to deal with, specifically from the Phillies. It was enough to turn a Philly sports fan toward the then Brooklyn-based team where Robinson made his name. Darrell Reed followed suit.

For much of his life, Mr. Reed sought out jobs where he would get to talk to people, his son said. It was his nature. It gave him life to help others.

As a SEPTA bus driver for 14 years, he’d meet riders daily, listening to their stories. As a school bus driver, he’d take students to and from school, offering what guidance he could. At Wynnewood, he found a place where he’d get to be the first face people would see as they walked through the front door.

Mr. Reed is survived by his children, Darrell A. Reed, Sean A. Reed, Keva Wilson, and Brian Farrier, along with two daughters-in-law and Congleton. He is also survived by eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Mr. Reed was buried at Ivy Hill Cemetery on Dec. 15, his son Darrell said.

In a parting message to his loved ones, included in his obituary, Reed said he left his life happy and asked that his friends and family think of him as a source of cheer, rather than a reason to grieve.

“To all my kids and my friends especially those at the Wynnewood House, I love you all,” Mr. Reed said in his posthumous message. “I came into life to go. I have loved and enjoyed every minute of life. I leave happy. Think of me for a moment, smile, move on and go on. Thanks and goodbye for now. I love everyone.”