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Ogden R. Reid, editor and congressman, dies at age 93

Ogden R. Reid, editor and congressman, dies at age 93

March 4th, 2019 by New York Times News Service in National News

Ogden R. Reid, the former editor of The Herald Tribune who represented congressional districts in Westchester County, New York, for 12 years, first as a Republican and then as Democrat, died Saturday at his home in Waccabuc, New York. He was 93.

His death was confirmed by his son David.

Reid was the scion of a newspaper publishing family whose grandfather was the editor and principal owner of the renowned New York Tribune and whose father merged it in the 1920s with the equally storied New York Herald to form The Herald Tribune. Reid was The Herald Tribune's president and editor in the 1950s.

The newspaper was respected for its high-quality journalism but dogged by financial troubles that would help bring its demise in the 1960s; the family sold its controlling interest in 1958. Reid entered government service the next year when President Dwight D. Eisenhower named him ambassador to Israel.

In 1961, another Republican, Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller, appointed Reid chairman of New York's state Commission Against Discrimination. His family's ties to the Republican Party went back to the 19th century.

He did seek office the next year, running for the party's nomination for the House of Representatives seat from a predominantly Republican district in eastern Westchester. The county's Republican leaders backed him over their party's incumbent, Edwin B. Dooley, who was seeking re-election. Reid defeated him in the primary and handily won the general election.

During his House tenure, which ran through 1974, Reid supported anti-poverty and civil rights legislation and efforts to improve urban areas, curb housing discrimination and strengthen Social Security. He voted so often with the House's Democratic majority that some conservative Republicans said the initials O.R. stood for "Occasionally Republican."

When a Westchester official spoke out against distributing federal surplus food to impoverished families in the county, saying it would be degrading to the recipients, Reid responded that when people are hungry, "pride doesn't interfere with taking free food."

Reid repeatedly introduced bills to protect journalists from being compelled by federal courts and other governmental authorities to disclose confidential sources. The bills, which did not pass, were designed "to defend against possible repression of the news media," he said.

In his first three re-election runs, Reid had no opponent in the primaries and won the general elections by large margins, enhanced by the votes of many Democrats. But in 1970, with conservatives having gained strength among Westchester Republicans, he had a challenger for the nomination, whom he narrowly beat before again winning the general election easily.

In 1972, Reid announced he was quitting the Republican Party and would seek re-election as a Democrat because, he said, the Republican Party had "moved to the right." Now as a Democrat, he won re-election again.

Two years later, rather than seek another House term, Reid entered the race for the Democratic nomination for governor. As he began to tour the state in 1973, he sharply criticized Rockefeller's "slavish allegiance" to President Richard M. Nixon—a sharp break with his recent Republican loyalties.

Reid dropped out of the race when he failed to gain substantial support beyond Westchester. After Rep. Hugh L. Carey of Brooklyn won the Democratic nomination and the 1974 general election, he appointed Reid as his commissioner of environmental conservation.

But Reid resigned after 16 months because of differences with Carey over the handling of matters like General Electric's discharge of highly toxic PCBs into the Hudson River. In 1983 he ran unsuccessfully for Westchester County executive.

Ogden Rogers Reid was born in Manhattan on June 24, 1925, a son of Ogden Mills Reid and Helen Rogers Reid. His father, who had taken over The Tribune in 1912 after the death of his father, Whitelaw Reid, presided over the 1924 acquisition of The Herald and the papers' merger. After Ogden M. Reid died in 1947, his wife was The Herald Tribune's president and dominant figure for several years.

Ogden R. Reid served in the Army as a paratrooper in the 11th Airborne Division during World War II. In 1949 he graduated from Yale and married Mary Louise Stewart before joining The Herald Tribune, where he worked as a mail clerk, photographer and reporter before becoming vice president in 1953. Two years later, just 29 years old, he succeeded his older brother, also named Whitelaw Reid, as president and editor.

Ogden Reid's efforts to halt the paper's falling circulation and financial slide were unavailing, and in 1958 the Reids sold a controlling interest to John Hay Whitney, the U.S. ambassador to Britain. But Whitney was no more successful, and in 1966 the paper was merged with others in trouble into an amalgam called The World Journal Tribune. It closed the next year.

Besides his son David, Reid is survived by his wife, Mary; four other sons, Stewart, Michael, William and Ogden; a daughter, Elisabeth Taylor; and 19 grandchildren.

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