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Wheeling Hall of Fame: Mary Louise Butler Reed


Education and Religion


Inducted 1986

When Mary Louise Butler Reed headed the International Order of King's Daughters and Sons, she was known as "the great missionary president."

She served as president of the International Order from 1918 to 1924 and during that period the medical wing of Isabella Thorburn College in Lucknow, India, was built and the name of the order placed in six Oriental colleges. In 1922, the order took its place on the Near East Foundation and members all over the world contributed to save thousands of starving children.

Mrs. Reed established a reputation as a leading spirit in the founding and development of organizations of human helpfulness, or religious, civic, patriotic and cultural service during a lifetime in Wheeling.

Born as Louise Butler in 1861, she became known nationally and internationally for her philanthropic work but she was also extremely active in her home community. The wife of a prominent Wheeling physician, Dr. Robert J. Reed, she established the King's Daughters Nursery in the city and was a leader in the founding of the local Young Women's Christian Association. She served the Wheeling YWCA as president for 10 years. It was during her administration that the current YWCA building was erected at Eleventh and Chapline Sts.

A member of the First Presbyterian Church in Wheeling, Mrs. Reed was the leader of the Home Mission Circle of the church for 25 years. Her father was a deacon in the church, her husband was a senior elder, and her mother was also an influential leader.

Mrs. Reed — a personable, intelligent woman with a talent for organization and leadership and with a devotion to service — touched the lives of many. She served in local and state office with the King's Daughters, in addition to being president of the state branch and recording secretary and finally president of the International Order.

Her influence was found in the establishment of scholarships at Tusculum College in Tennessee and at the Chautauqua Institution in Jamestown, N. Y.

Her deep patriotism found expression in serving the societies which strive to preserve the heritage of the nation's founders. She was honorary vice-president general of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution and also held office in the Colonial Dames, Daughters of 1812.

Mrs. Reed died on June 11, 1939. She and her husband had one son, Dr. Robert J. Reed, Jr., who died in 1967. Her grandson, Dr. Robert J. Reed III, is a Wheeling surgeon.

At the time of Mrs. Reed's death, Betsy Bodkin, president of the West Virginia Branch of the King's Daughters, said in tribute, "Her brilliant mind, lovable nature, charming personality and sincere conviction of right won for her universal admiration, esteem and love. Words are futile that try to tell the story of her broad sympathies, her sensitiveness to beauty, her eager championship of worthy causes, her supreme faith in God. Mrs. Reed had many and varied interests but they all centered in the general purpose of human welfare and conserving values for the good of all."

Text and pictures provided by Wheeling Hall of Fame. Service provided by the staff of the Ohio County Public Library in partnership with the Wheeling Hall of Fame Committee.

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