Gloucester County Helene Reed, a former freeholder and popular local official, has passed away.
“While heartbroken in the moment we are comforted by the knowledge that she lived a life that will carry her memory and spirit forward. We are forever grateful for the support and love she was showered with in her final days, but more proud of the way she spent a lifetime earning it,” her family said in a statement released today. “To say that she was a role model and an inspiration to each of us would be an understatement. It has been our privilege to witness her dedication to helping others. She truly epitomized what public service is supposed to be and allowed thousands of strangers to see the woman we knew and loved so dearly.”
Reed was elected Surrogate in 2007 after nine years as a Gloucester County Freeholder. She spent eight years as a councilwoman in Monroe Township – the first woman to hold the post. She is a also a former chair of the Rowan University Board of Trustees.
“A trailblazer who became the first female to serve on Township Council, it was a privilege to watch her demonstrate that same drive, grace, commitment and dedication through her professional and political life. There was never a challenge she was unwilling to take on, there was never a person she was unwilling to help and there was never a cause she was unwilling to assist,” her family said. “While she will be deeply missed by all who knew her, we hope that her life inspires others the way it has done for us.”
She began her political career in January 1983, when she was appointed to the council to fill the seat of Howard Richman, who had been elected mayor.
Reed won re-election in 2017 with 62% of the vote against Republican William Gilson. That was a rematch of her first Surrogate race, when she beat Gilson by a 57%-43% margin.
Senate President Steve Sweeney, who served as a freeholder with Reed, said that he was “truly heartbroken” to learn of her death.
“She dedicated her life to helping others and always put the interest of others before her own. Helene embodied what it meant to be a dedicated public servant. Words can never express how grateful and privileged I am to have known and served side by side with such a caring and loving person. Helene’s legacy will forever be remembered in Gloucester County and throughout the region,” Sweeney said. “We have lost someone truly special. She will be sorely missed.”