Olabelle Reed

Oct 16, 2018
Reed, Olabelle news


11:00 AM, Saturday, October 27, 2018, at Antioch Baptist Church, Waterloo


4:00 - 7:00 PM, Friday, October 26, 2018, at Kearns Funeral Service Kimball Chapel, Waterloo


Garden of Memories


Olabelle Reed, 83, of Waterloo, died Tuesday, October 16, at Covenant Medical Center.

She was born on January 30, 1935, in Iowa City, Daughter of Freeman and Isabella (Wood) Reed. She married Richard Emmanel Reed on June 2, 1956, in Waterloo; they later divorced.

Olabelle graduated from East High School in 1953 obtained a Teachers Certificate in 1955, a B.A. in Education in 1960, and a M.A. in Elementary Education in 1970 from the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls. She was an Elementary Teacher for Waterloo Community Schools from 1960 until her retirement in 1996.

She was a member of Cedar Heights Baptist Church (Cedar Falls) and also a member of Antioch Baptist Church (Waterloo), teaching Sunday School at a young age. Her membership included: Iowa Baptist Red Circle Girls; Baptist Training Union Choir and Program Director; Co-Founder of Club Les Dames;  American Association of University Women; Northeast Iowa Genealogical Society; Iowa Genealogical Society; African American Historical and Cultural Society; Chicago National Alliance for the Mentally Ill; University of Iowa Alumni Association; Arria Court No. 5 Order of Calanthe, State vice president; and National Alliance for the Mentally Ill Black Hawk County.

Olabelle was a East High School Hall of Fame inductee in 1995, University of Northern Iowa Golden Graduates Society Inductee in 2010; and a Cedar Valley Business Monthly “Eight over 80” 2016 Honoree.

Survived by: Son, Richard “Mark” Reed of Waterloo; Daughter, Adrienne Reed of St. Paul, Minn.; Five Grandchildren, Jason (Chantrice) Dorris of Atlanta;  Carlin (Jordaya) Dorris of Chicago; Ashley Dorris of Ankeny; Nina Easterling of Dixmoor, Ill.; and Keaton Reed of Plymouth, Minn.; Four Great-Grandchildren: Imani, Zoey, and Jason Edward Gold Dorris; and Carlin Dorris Jr.;  Sister, Helen (Robert) Robinson; Two Brothers, Lee Dennis (Patricia) Reed and James (Eula) Reed, all of Waterloo.

Preceded by: her Parents; Daughter, Paula Reed Dorris; Brothers, Cecil Reed, Charles Reed, and Stanley Reed; Sisters, Verna Mae Reed, Lee Evelyn Reed, Yvonne Reed Denton, and Corena Reed Carter.

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  1. Min Edward C. Smith & Family | Oct 26, 2018
    My deepest prayers go out to the Reed, Carter, Denton, Doris and Jackson families in their time of lost and reflection of their beloved Olabell Reed. She was truely a remarkable... Mother, Grand Mother, Great-Grand Mother, Aunt, Sister, Angel & friend to many. Let us ALL continue to live and treasure  the memories of her until we see and embrace her, again, in Glory.       
  2. Carolyn Samuel | Oct 26, 2018
    So sorry to hear of Ms.Reed passing-she was my first grade teacher at Longfellow-
  3. Janet (Norman) Jackson | Oct 25, 2018

    October 24,2018  

    Olabelle Reed was my dear friend for well over 65 years. She was intelligent, thoughtful and cared deeply about others; most especially “ our children “ , their education and their futures. Olabelle had that rare yet important gift of being able to persist against all odds and most often ended up a “winner”.  Although Olabelle was a few years older than me, and her younger sisters Helen and Yvonne were initially my friends, our paths really crossed following high school when we both were students at what was then Iowa State Teacher’s College.  Olabelle was completing the last two years of her bachelor’s degree, after having taught a few years with her two year certificate, and I was getting my bachelor’s degree too.  We were both married, had young families and ended up living in the same four family apartment building that Olabelle had found.  We also worshiped together at Antioch Baptist Church and often provided solace and comfort to each other as we journeyed  on our challenging scholarly and domestic paths. Of course there was always time for fun, laughter and “girl talk”.   Following our graduations in l960, we both embarked on our new careers. I do believe that I was the first African American speech and hearing therapist in Black Hawk County and I also believe that Olabelle Reed was the first elementary school teacher in Waterloo, Iowa. As Black women and pioneering trail blazers, the path was fraught with landmines. We supported each other and provided confidential  consultation and reassurance to each other in an ongoing, safe and caring way. As I said to begin with, we were very special and dear friends.   Olabelle and I joined and integrated  AAUW ( American Association of University Women ) together. We also hosted the group together and experimented with gourmet menus. Sometimes more successfully than others. Today I find it hard to believe that we also had the energy and drive to create Club Le Dames, but we did so at meetings around our kitchen table. Davita (Williams) Slater helped name the group and Gale (Norman) Bell was our first president. Thanks to the hard work of Olabelle and others Club Le Dame  has not only grown, but thrived. We initially worked hard to broaden and enrich our cultural and social experiences. Today I am aware of so many projects and efforts that enhance the education and lives of  young women and others, including scholarships and more.     In addition to her other gifts, Olabelle was an excellent communicator. Because Jim and I moved away so long ago, Olabelle and I kept in touch with lengthy phone calls and the famous Reed Family Christmas letter. Who cared if it didn’t arrive until July?  It was filled with tantalizing news and worth waiting for. Olabelle dearly loved and cherished all her family and friends and demonstrated it daily. She was proud of each success and faced each life challenge  with a quiet driving spirit  and hopefulness.     I loved my dear friend and was deeply saddened when we were last together in the summer of 2017. Olabelle’s speech was so soft that I could hardly hear her. The results of an earlier stroke. I quickly enlisted the assistance of Dennis Reed and other family and friends to help me stay in touch right up to the end. I will miss Olabelle as will all her family and friends, but I know that her spirit and her good works will live on as she moves on up to her heavenly home.  Good bye my dear friend. Yours was a life well lived.


    Love & Blessings, Janet (Norman) Jackson

  4. wilma jean conrads | Oct 24, 2018
    Olabelle and I have known each other since childhood. My Grandma lived at 520 Oneida Street and she lived next door. When I went to Grandma’s house Olabelle and I  played together. We talked about  someday becoming  teachers or nurses but we  laughed because we were both poor kids and knew  those prospects were slim. However both of us became teachers. She has received many accolades in her lifetime and I am so proud to have known her. I will miss her. She has  touched many lives. May she rest in peace.  May those of you who mourn be comforted by the knowledge that she is with the God whom she loved and served.   Wilma (Adelmund) Conrads
  5. Tanisha Durham | Oct 24, 2018
    Ms. Reed was an incredible pillar to the Waterloo community. I remember her from school in the 90's. Blessings and condolences to the family. May she rest on in peace after a lifetime of fight, strength, perseverance and love. 
  6. Becky | Oct 23, 2018

    I am truly sorry to hear of her passing. She was my teacher at Jewett many years ago. She made a quiet but lasting impact.

    I was fortunate to see her at a craft sale at our church a few years ago. I helped her to the church and didn’t hesitate to let her know I remembered her.

    In fact, when you ask me to name teachers, Mrs. Reed always is first on my mind. Thought about her so many times throughout the years.

    God’s blessings through this time.

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