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Jim Reed: 1966 – 2014

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Dealership manager dies at 47

By Lisa King

In the short time that Jim Reed lived in Shelbyville, he made a huge impact on the community, giving of himself in many ways, his friends say.

“I told his wife [Lisa], ‘Life is about the footprint that you leave,’” said Joe O’Brien, president of O’Brien Ford, where Reed was vice president and general manager. “Jim Reed spent five and a half years of his life in Shelbyville, Kentucky, and has left a footprint that most people couldn’t leave in a lifetime.”

Reed, 47 died unexpectedly Friday from a massive heart attack, O’Brien said, while he was watching his favorite team – Ohio State – play on TV in the Orange Bowl.

All around Shelbyville, from his co-workers to community leaders, people are expressing shock and sorrow at Reed’s passing.

“He was a great mentor, a great leader and just a great overall person to be around,” said Allen Toll, an employee at O’Brien Ford. “I’ve worked with him for five years now and have enjoyed the whole five years that I’ve been with him. He’s been like a best friend to me. We really were shocked. He’s going to be greatly missed.”

Shelley Goodwin, executive director of the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce, expressed her sadness in a statement issued by her office.

“Jim was a friend and a valuable member of our board of directors,” she said. “He gave of his time and his many talents not only to the chamber, but to several organizations in Shelby County. Jim will be greatly missed. Our prayers go out to his family, friends and co-workers at O'Brien Ford.”

O’Brien said part of Reed’s legacy was his love of life, something that anyone who knew him would always remember.

“Jim was a jolly, big man, but he had a very soft heart,” he said. “He had a very charismatic personality – he laughed and smiled all the time. I don’t think there was ever anybody that ever met him that didn’t like him.”

Another friend, Gary Walls, said Reed was a very devoted husband and father and very committed to the community, serving not only on the chamber board but also involved with the Shelbyville Rotary Club.

He said Reed and Lisa, his wife of 27 years, were very dedicated to raising money for St. Jude Children’s Hospital through bluegrass music.

“He was only in Shelby County for a short time, but while he was here, he sure made an impact,” Walls said.

The Reeds have two children, Jesse Reed and Allison Reed. Originally from Florida, Reed had moved his family to Ohio before coming to Shelbyville to team up with O’Brien to establish the Ford dealership on Mount Eden Road.

It was while living in Ohio, O’Brien said, that Reed took two years off from his car dealership career to explore a musical career. Reed was a mandolin player for “Thee Fox Drive,” a well-established bluegrass band founded in the 1980s by three siblings. The group recorded a CD called “Listen to the Music” in 2005.

Ray Tucker, president of the A&M Association, the entity that puts on the Shelby County Fair, said that along with Walls, Reed played an important role in helping the fair launch a new concert series in 2012.

“He was very instrumental in getting that first year’s concert series that we did off the ground, and getting the groups that we did,” Tucker said. “We have to give a lot of credit to him for that.”

Said O’Brien: “He’s probably playing music in heaven right now.”