Lt. Col. Jay Farley Reed (ret,) took off for his final departure, into clear skies over the Gulf, from St. Joseph’s Hospice in Gulfport, Miss., the morning of Sunday, September 12, 2021. He was 68 years old.
Jay was a true son of the Gulf Coast. He was born at Memorial Hospital in Gulfport on August 3, 1953, and raised in Long Beach, which he always considered his home. However, he spent his adult life traveling the world, first serving his country as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force and then as a commercial pilot.
He graduated from Long Beach High School in 1973, and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1977, where he also completed ROTC and received a commission to be an officer in the Air Force.
Jay’s military service took him, quite literally, around the world. He flew UH-1 “Huey” helicopters at first, and trained to fly C-141 and C-5 transport planes later in his career. He served on the Air Force One advance team for President George H.W. Bush, working on the ground ahead of any presidential travel to handle airport logistics and security. He participated in a number of humanitarian operations, including evacuating refugees after the Liberian civil war. In 1990 he earned a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Troy State University. He retired from the Air Force as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1999, after nearly 22 years of service.
Following his military service, Jay continued to fly transport planes. He moved his family back to Long Beach, but his career with Atlas Air kept him globetrotting. He has the rare distinction of having visited every continent on Earth, and had adventures everywhere, from Antarctica to Amsterdam, Shanghai to Johannesburg, Sydney to Rio de Janeiro. He’s seen more of the planet than most of us could ever dream, and from a unique vantage point--miles above us, looking down.
But Jay was more than just his job. He was a faithful member of St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church. He was a helper at heart, selfless and generous to those who needed a hand. He was a loving father and husband, as well as an irreplaceable friend (and drinking buddy) to countless people around the world. Jay was honorary Vice Air Marshal Macallan in the New Orleans Booziliers and you could find him and his kilt-clad crew marching in the Irish Channel parade in New Orleans each year. He was also an active member of the Krewe of Tucks for Mardi Gras.
He loved to cook, and he loved listening to the classics--his favorites were Jimi Hendrix (who, when Jay was a teenager, he got to meet after a concert in New Orleans) and, of course, the Beatles. (Jay, if you’re reading this, don’t worry, we won’t tell anybody about any of those guilty pleasures hiding in your CD collection.)
You may have seen him cruising along the beach in his red Corvette, down at Salute or Shaggy’s, picking crabs and shucking oysters, or sitting on his back porch with a cigar in hand, yelling at the squirrels that were constantly threatening to re-invade his attic.
Jay was preceded in death by his parents, Robert L. Reed Jr and Lenora LaRosa Reed; and his siblings, Ida Reed Gates, Carol Reed Willard, Robert L. Reed III, and Paul Reed.
He is survived by his wife, Julia Reed; his three children: Lisa Reed, Jessica Lumpkin, and David Reed; their mother, Patricia Hodges Reed; his grandchildren, William and Meredith Lumpkin; his brothers, Richard, Frank, George and Tommy; and stepson, Banebridge Tester.
He will be missed greatly by his family, friends, and everybody whose life he touched. We love you, Jay Reed.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 am Monday, September 20, 2021, at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, 720 E Beach Blvd, Long Beach. Visitation for family and friends will be from 9 – 10 am. Interment will be in Long Beach City Cemetery.
Memorial funds, or donations, should be directed to the Veterans of Foreign Wars or the Disabled American Veterans.
The RIEMANN FAMILY FUNERAL HOME, Long Beach, is serving the family and online condolences may be offered at www.riemannfamily.com
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