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SMITHFIELD — Johnstonian News reporter Steve Reed died suddenly on Friday after suffering a heart attack while attending a family gathering in Jacksonville, Florida.
Reed, 62, had been a staff writer at the Johnstonian News since its inception in August 2018 and was news editor of the Selma News before that. He was also pastor of United Faith Christian Church near Selma.
“Those of us who have worked with Steve know his dedication to his job and to the community in Johnston County,” said Corey Friedman, executive editor of Restoration NewsMedia, a joint venture of The Wilson Times and The Daily Record of Dunn and parent company of the Johnstonian News.
“He was always willing to offer help, support and encouragement to his colleagues,” Friedman added. “He will be missed not just for his contributions to the newspaper, but for the caring and compassionate person we all had the privilege to know.”
Reed is survived by his wife, Elaine; three grown daughters; two sons-in-law; and two grandchildren, with another on the way. He was in Florida this past week for his daughter’s gender-reveal announcement and reception.
“We extend our sincere condolences to Elaine and all of Steve’s family along with our Johnstonian News team,” Friedman said.
Arrangements are by Rose & Graham Funeral Home in Benson.
Rick Stewart owned the Selma News and the other newspapers that became the Johnstonian News when Stewart sold his publications to Restoration NewsMedia.
“Of all the co-workers we had at our newspapers, Steve was, without a doubt, the most persistent in seeking a job with us,” Steward said. “Steve was initially hired to be an ad sales representative, and even though he said he had little sales experience, he persisted until he won the job. He came into the position with many ideas on improving our newspapers and worked diligently to achieve those goals.”
In his heart, Stewart said, Reed was a reporter and eventually became news editor of the Selma News and Princeton News Leader while also reporting for the Kenly News and Pine Level News.
“Steve had a nose for news and could ferret out a news story as well as any writer I have worked with,” Stewart said. “He had a strong working relationship with everyone on the staff as well as with those in the community who he wrote about.”
Those relationships paid dividends for the newspapers, Stewart said.
“Steve made our newspapers better because of his love of people and news,” he said. “I will certainly miss him as a friend and as a former co-worker, and I know those who read Steve each week also will miss him greatly.”
Selma Mayor Cheryl Oliver said she saw Reed’s caring firsthand.
“Whether as a pastor or a reporter, Steve Reed had a heart for people,” she said. “He also had a heart for Selma, and so many times Steve mentioned to me how much he loved and cared about Selma. He truly wanted to see Selma prosper, and it was not unusual for him to suggest improvements the town might want to consider.”
As a reporter, Reed did not seek to sensationalize the news but instead looked at an issue from all angles and then wrote an objective story about it, Oliver explained. The mayor said she always respected him for reporting in that manner.
“My prayers are with his family, his congregation and his colleagues,” Oliver said.
Selma Councilwoman Ann Williams said she appreciated Reed’s contributions to the town.
“For several years as a reporter for the Selma News, he was the town of Selma’s ‘go-to guy’ with regard to any information we wanted to get out to the people,” she said. “Steve covered our Selma Town Council meetings faithfully and often contacted us for further comments. He and I had long telephone conversations about issues along with his many questions as he attempted to dig deeper on every subject.”
Williams said Reed was much more than a reporter and wanted to be part of the Selma community.
“Steve Reed was a true professional who always greeted us with a positive attitude, a smile and a bit of a chuckle — a rarity in today’s world,” she said. “He will be greatly missed.”
Princeton Town Administrator Marla Ashworth said she was saddened to hear about Reed’s unexpected passing.
“My association and friendship with Steve Reed began when the Princeton paper was purchased by Rick Stewart several years ago,” Ashworth said. “Steve was always honest and fair in his reporting and made a genuine effort to get to know the people of Princeton.”
“As a man, he was very open about his Christian faith and showed genuine compassion and concern for everyone,” Ashworth added. “I could always count on Steve as a sounding board, for a thoughtful perspective and for an honest opinion on any topic.”
Ashworth said it was a pleasure working with Reed. “My heartfelt condolences go to his family, especially his wife, Elaine, whom he mentioned often with love and respect,” she said.
Ted Godwin, chairman of the Johnston County Board of Commissioners, said he was saddened by Reed’s untimely death.
“In this age of so much distrust of the press, Steve could be counted on with fair, impartial reporting of local events,” Godwin said. “He was not only a fine newsman, with integrity, he was also man of faith and has filled in at the pulpit in my own church in Micro.”
“I will miss Steve’s smiling presence at our commissioner meetings and wish to extend to his family our thoughts and prayers in this difficult time,” Godwin said.