Feature Story

Remembering Libby Reed

March 12, 2015 – by Ohio Wesleyan University

Libby Reed

Ohio Wesleyan and our alumni mourn the loss of legendary OWU Professor Emerita Libby Reed, who died March 11 following a short hospitalization.

Please see the message below that President Rock Jones emailed to the campus and alumni, and leave your remembrances of Professor Reed at the end of the message or on the OWU Alumni Facebook page.

Dear Campus Community,

I write today to share that Ohio Wesleyan has lost one of its most beloved family members. Professor Emerita Libuse “Libby” Reed died last night following a short hospitalization.

Libby joined the OWU Department of English in 1952 and helped students to achieve their potential for the next 32 years. Even after retiring in 1984, she and her husband, John, remained active on campus, continuing to mentor and inspire the students and alumni who meant so very much to them.

Libby’s former students vividly remember her red pen and the rigor of her instruction in writing, particularly her popular course in report writing that prepared students in every major for leadership in virtually every sector in our society. In recent weeks, I have heard alumni who were her students in the 1950s and in the ’80s talk to me about the impact of that course and of Libby on their lives. In both cases, they listed Libby among the people with the greatest influence on their professional lives.

In 1990, Libby was made an Honorary Alumna by Ohio Wesleyan. The citation celebrating her enduring impact read:

“Through her legendary course in report writing, Libby has introduced generations of undergraduates to the importance of clear, grammatical, and effective writing. She has instructed, challenged – and browbeaten – hundreds of students into the realization that effective writing is, and by rights should be, an integral part of post-graduate life. At every alumni function, former students express shuddering memory of the rigors of the course, always adding, however, fervent appreciation for having had the experience and grateful recognition of its profound influence on their post-college lives.”

Libby’s impact at Ohio Wesleyan continues even today through the Libuse L. Reed Endowed Professorship, created by former students in 2003, and through scholarships in her name in both the Department of English and the Department of Geology and Geography. The Reeds also continue to assist students through the John H. and Libuse L. Reed Endowed Scholarship Fund, created in 2008.

In 2014, Libby was interviewed by Professor Emerita Louise Musser as part of the Heritage Day celebration, “No Higher Honor: A Half-Century of Celebrated Teaching Faculty.” The celebration recognized past winners of the Bishop Herbert Welch Meritorious Teaching Award, which Libby earned in 1971. The video interview is available online at https://www.owu.edu/about/history-traditions/heritage-day/.

In the 47-minute interview, Libby notes that she first visited Ohio Wesleyan to support John, who was interviewing for a reference librarian position. But Libby notes: She was hired first and without even applying!

As John completed his interview, Libby was invited to tea with the Chair of the English Department and other members of the campus community. And before everyone’s teacup was empty, Libby had been offered a job.

Happily, John was hired, too, and each spent 32 remarkable years here helping to transform lives.

As many of you know, we lost John in January and now Libby. This, indeed, is a sad moment in Ohio Wesleyan history. As with John, gifts in memory of Libby may be directed to the John H. and Libuse L. Reed Endowed Scholarship Fund, c/o Mowry Alumni Center, Ohio Wesleyan University, 61 S. Sandusky St, Delaware, OH 43015. The University will plan and announce at a later time an opportunity for friends, colleagues, and former students to gather to celebrate the lives of John and Libby. In the meantime, I encourage you to remember and celebrate this remarkable couple with the same passion and joy with which they lived.

Rock