Meet Our Founder: Lewis Reed
Lewis Reed was born in Darnestown, Maryland on November 25, 1887 and attended school in Montgomery County. He went to work for the fore-runner of the IBM Corporation at about the time it was founded in 1913. In 1915, he founded Reed Brothers Dodge. In 1920, he married the former Ethlene Thomas of Frederick County and moved to Gaithersburg. He had one daughter, Mary Jane, who later married Ernest Lee Gartner in 1944.
Before becoming interested in automobiles, Lewis Reed was one of the original employees of the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company, a Georgetown-based manufacturing firm that eventually became International Business Machines, Inc. He received his training at the Pierce Arrow factory at Buffalo, New York, the Dodge and Hudson factories at Detroit and the Washington Auto College. Pierce-Arrow was once one of the most recognized and respected names in the automobile industry. For 38 years, the Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company in Buffalo, New York, produced some of the finest automobiles made.
When World War I broke out, Lewis Reed along with many other patriotic men joined the war effort. He did his bit in World War I by working at the Navy Yard in Washington DC as a torpedo tester.
Prior to World War I, Lewis Reed’s love of automobiles led him to becoming a chauffeur. Chauffeurs were trained to be proficient with their driving skills, but they also had to keep the luxury automobiles in tip top shape which is where his mechanic training would have come into play.
Lewis Reed was a member of the Gaithersburg Grace Methodist Church where he served as a member and Chairman of the Board of Stewards, a lay leader and President of the Men’s Bible Class.
He was also a charter member and Past President (Feb.1933 – Feb. 1937) of the Gaithersburg – Washington Grove Volunteer Fire Department and a member of the advisory board of the Rockville branch of the First National Bank of Maryland.
Lewis Reed belonged to the Masonic Lodge of Rockville, the Pentalph Chapter of the Eastern Star and the Rockville Rotary Club. He was a Rotarian for 34 years and also had served as President of that group.
With photography for a hobby, one that began even before automobiles were around Montgomery County, he had amassed a large library of photographs of buildings, farm carts drawn by oxen, and other historic spots in Montgomery County. Lewis Reed expanded his hobby to include movies, and made them not only of his family, but on his trips to various parts of the world. Many of his photographs are now part of the Montgomery County (Maryland) Historical Society photo archives.
The story of how Lewis Reed was chosen for a Dodge Brothers Motor Car franchise is lost, but his legacy continued until 2009 as the oldest Dodge dealership under the same family ownership in Maryland, and one of the oldest in the entire nation.
Interesting, I was a mechanic at the Gaithersburg Washington Grove Volunteer Fire Department from 1990-1996, and had no idea Lewis Reed was a past president.
An absolutely amazing fellow! What an interesting life with so many twists and turns. My first car was a 1970 Coronet (pea green) bought at the location across from St. Mary’s. I remember they were preparing to move to the new location on 355. What a shame that Chrysler let this one go!