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Monday, October 19, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Environmental advocacy lawyer Scott Reed dies at age 87

Scott Reed in 2012. (File)
Scott Reed in 2012. (File)

Coeur d’Alene lawyer Scott Reed, whose long career was highlighted by cases to protect natural areas from development and maintain public access to places like Tubbs Hill and Sanders Beach, died Saturday night at home. He was 87.

Reed had retired in the past year after nearly 60 years as an attorney and advocate for environmental causes.

Former City Councilor Mike Kennedy described Reed as “one of the finest lawyers, community leaders and gentlemen our city and state has ever known.”

“But maybe the legacy he’d appreciate most is in the kids who will hike Tubbs Hill for the first time, experience the beauty and peace, and gain a love for the natural world enough to want to do something to make it better wherever they end up,” Kennedy said. “That’s a pretty great thing to leave behind.”

In 2012, the Idaho State Bar honored Reed with its highest honor, the Distinguished Lawyer Award, presented by Coeur d’Alene attorney Paul Daugharty.

“Scott Reed was the kind of lawyer every lawyer should aspire to be,” Daugharty said.

Reed’s wife, former Democratic state Sen. Mary Lou Reed, said, “He made me laugh all my life. It was always fun to be with Scott. I will miss the laughter.”

The Reeds were inducted into the Idaho Hall of Fame last year, largely for their community activism. They helped establish the Friends of Tubbs Hill, which helped protect the 165-acre forested area between downtown and the lake as a city park.

“This town would have been very different and not as special if we had not had Scott Reed to fight for Tubbs Hill,” former City Councilor Deanna Goodlander said.

The Reeds also helped found Kootenai Environmental Alliance, the oldest nonprofit conservation organization in Idaho. In a statement Sunday, KEA called Scott Reed “a gentle, brilliant man and a powerful, positive force for our community. A genuine hero.”

Reed also represented residents hoping to keep Sanders Beach near downtown open to the public, while the owners of lakefront property there sought to bar public access to the beach fronting their homes. The decadeslong legal battle was settled in 2011, allowing homeowners to build fences but not boat docks and giving the public use of the beach when the lake level is below the normal high-water mark.

Opposite Reed for most of that court fight was Coeur d’Alene attorney John Magnuson. The two squared off often in court, but Magnuson said he had high respect for Reed.

“If all my colleagues were cut from the same cloth as Scott Reed, the world would be a better place,” he said in 2012.

Reed represented Silver Valley magnate Harry Magnuson, John Magnuson’s late father, to block Interstate 90 from cutting through historic downtown Wallace. Reed won an injunction because the federal government had failed to obtain an environmental impact statement, and the freeway eventually skirted town.

“Environmental law is some of the more constant work and least-paying work,” Reed said in a 2012 interview with The Spokesman-Review. “When somebody wants to stop something, they come to see me. We try our best.”

Reed earned his undergraduate degree from Princeton University and his law degree from Stanford Law School. He moved to Coeur d’Alene and started working immediately after he passed the bar in 1956.

He and Mary Lou wed in 1953 and had two children. Their daughter, Tara Woolpy, is a professor of biology at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

Their son, Bruce, served as chief of staff for Vice President Joe Biden and as an adviser to President Barack Obama, and served eight years as domestic policy adviser for former President Bill Clinton. He’s now president of the Los Angeles-based Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, which supports opportunities for students in urban schools.

Bruce Reed has talked about how his parents’ values influenced him growing up.

“Our home was always a campaign headquarters for something: environment, mental health, public schools,” he said in a 2013 speech to the Idaho State Bar. “Our basement was like an underground railroad for progressive leaders from around the West. It’s still a little bit that way.”

Scott Reed asked that no funeral or memorial service be held for him, his wife said.

“He felt he had enough awards and attention throughout his life,” she said.

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