Phil Reed was the definition of a people person.
As boys basketball coach at Southold High School and as a counselor at Maryhaven Center of Hope in Riverhead, he helped lift the spirits of almost anyone he encountered.
“Phil had a way of being able to ground everybody and frame it in a positive light, and always bring humor,” said Jaime Crispin, Reed’s supervisor at Maryhaven. “He always had this big smile on his face.”
Reed, 59, died suddenly on Tuesday night, leaving a huge void at the high school, Maryhaven and with his friends and family in Central Islip.
“Phil was the most generous and loving man I have ever known,” said his wife, Lorraine. “His love for his family was unparalleled. Phil was always happy and touched a lot of lives. He was a very positive role model not only at work, but at coaching as well.”
Reed served as coach for high school and junior high teams for more than 30 years and was in his fourth year as Southold High School’s varsity boys basketball coach. Though his team had been struggling until Monday when the First Settlers upset Bridgehampton for their biggest victory of the season, he managed to keep spirits high.
”Coach Reed has taught our athletes to be resilient,” Southold High School athletic director Mike Brostowski said. “They’ll always keep Coach Reed in their hearts and play hard.”
The school made counselors available to help students and teachers deal with the grief of losing their beloved coach, according to David Gamberg, the district superintendent. Gamberg added that the basketball team will play out the season.
Born in Oklahoma City on Nov. 16, 1956, Reed graduated from Islip High School in 1975, where he played basketball and football, earning an All-League selection in football during his senior season. His family had moved to Long Island when he was in junior high, said longtime friend Dave Goodman, who coaches girls basketball at Islip High School.
Reed began his undergraduate studies at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania and graduated from SUNY-Old Westbury in 1995 after continuing his studies to earn a degree in business management. Reed’s coaching career began in 1985 as a junior high school football coach in Wyandanch. He also coached at Hampton Bays, Mercy and Southold high schools in four sports — football, basketball, baseball and softball.
“Very rarely did you see him having anything that resembled a bad day,” said Hampton Bays basketball coach Pete Meehan, a longtime friend. “He was just so positive and looked at the good side of things.”
Reed is survived by his wife of 29 years; his daughter, Jessica, 29, of Central Islip; his mother, Laddie M. Reed, 90, of Central Islip, and his brother, Elliot, 67, of Central Islip.
A wake will be held at the Michael J. Grant Funeral Home in Brentwood, Saturday from 1:30-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. He will be cremated, Lorraine Reed said.
The family has asked that donations be made to the American Heart Association in Reed’s honor, in lieu of flowers.