Edward T. Reid passed away peacefully at home Thursday January 11, 2018 at the age of 96. One of 12 children, he was born on August 21, 1921 with “racquets” in his genes. His father, James T. Reid, was one of the founders of the US Professional Tennis Association (USPTA). Eddie grew up in Brooklyn and Northport, NY and learned his craft in both tennis and squash at the historic Crescent Athletic Club, where his dad was the pro. As a junior, he was ranked in the top 20 nationally in tennis and won the Eastern Boys Doubles Championship at Forest Hills in 1939. He captained his St. John’s Prep team, where he was undefeated, winning the NY private school championship in 1939. He attended St. John’s University and enlisted in the Coast Guard where he served in the North Atlantic. After the war, he turned professional and worked seasonally at various clubs including the Merion Cricket Club in Philadelphia, and the Point Judith Country Club, Agawam Hunt Club and Newport Casino in Rhode Island. In 1947, he was recruited by the Brainard family to become the full-time tennis and squash pro at the Hartford Golf Club. Eddie made Greater Hartford his home and, with his wife Delores, raised their family in Wethersfield over the next 22 years.
During the 50s and 60s, Eddie made Hartford the racquets capital of New England. In a brash style all his own and with his trademark long white pants and patented 3-wall drop shot, Eddie dominated the US squash world before the “Open” era and the arrival of the Kahn dynasty. Eddie won the US Professional Squash Racquets Championships in 1947, 1949, 1950 and 1952 and defeated Henri Salaun, the top-ranking amateur at the Boston Open. He was ranked #1 in the world in 1954 before a knee injury ended his competitive career in 1955. With the aid of Spalding and Cragin-Simplex corporations, Eddie promoted both tennis and squash extensively through the sponsorship of tournaments and exhibitions featuring nationally ranked players. He initiated the Henshaw Cup, a tri-city men’s competition between Providence, New Haven and Hartford. He also became recognized as one of the primary drivers of youth tennis development, coaching a number of outstanding juniors who were ranked in the Top 10 in New England and who excelled on their prep/high school and college teams. In 1962, he was awarded the Joseph Deitz Trophy as the professional “who has done the most for the amateur game”. Eddie pioneered indoor clay tennis with the opening of The Tennis Club in Bloomfield in 1963. He was a member of the winning New England pro team at the USPTA’s Intersectional Team Championships in 1965 and 1966.
In 1969, Eddie became the Tennis & Squash Coach at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, ME. He introduced tennis as the first varsity women’s sport at the school and his teams went on to win a number of titles over the years. In 1997, the USPTA-New England awarded him Coach of the Year for his work with the men’s team. His lifetime sports classes were among the most popular electives on campus. He was twice elected President of the New England section of the USPTA in 1979 and 1980. He was named to the College Squash Hall of Fame in 1992, the Maine State Squash Hall of Fame in 2008, and the USPTA-New England Hall of Fame in 2014.
Eddie is survived by his daughter Melanie and her husband Kurt, of San Francisco, CA; three sons, Tim and his wife Carolyn, of Avon, Greg and his wife Carol, of Naples, FL, and Jeff of Rocky Hill; a brother Bobby; three sisters Fanny, Buddy and Betty, all of Long Island; as well as a number of nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents, James and Mary, his brothers Jimmy and Jack, and his sisters Rita, Ronnie, Roey, Claire and Joan. Special thanks to his caregiver, Birute, for her loving care over the last 7 years.
A memorial service will be held at a later date. Contributions in Coach’s memory may be made to the Bowdoin College Polar Bear Athletic Club, 4100 College Station, Brunswick, ME 04011. For online condolences, please visit farleysullivan.com.