Santa Maria Sun / News
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 21
Pioneer Valley says goodbye to a beloved coach and teacher
BY KRISTINA SEWELL
A collection of flowers, pictures, and candles maintained by students on their summer vacation currently surrounds the flagpole at Pioneer Valley High School, commemorating the life of former teacher and coach Neil Reed.
Reed’s sudden and unexpected death on July 26 has left a family grieving and a tight-knit school community reeling with shock. Reed was hospitalized on July 25 for cardiac arrest, and passed away the following morning at the age of 36.
Word of Reed’s hospitalization quickly spread to the Pioneer Valley community, which banded together to form a prayer chain through texts and Facebook. An event originally intended to be a prayer vigil sadly turned into a moment to mourn and memorialize the abrupt loss of a beloved friend.
Assistant principal and former athletic director Greg Dickinson said Reed brought joy to everyone on campus.
“He was well loved and respected,” Dickinson said. “He had a special way of getting the best from his students.”
The standing room-only crowd shared moving stories and funny anecdotes about Reed.
Principal Shanda Herrera said the school has already been host to two memorial services and will continue to support Reed’s family.
Reed was hired as a physical education teacher in 2007 and quickly became involved in school athletics.
He coached boys’ basketball, boys’ and girls’ golf, and football, and served as assistant athletic director. Earlier this summer he decided to take over the freshmen boys’ basketball team.
Herrera said the support and respect for Reed continues, with students showing up at the school to take care of the flagpole memorial.
“This has been an opportunity for us to pull together as a school community and go through this tragedy together,” she said. “[Coach Reed] was incredible; he found a way to create relationships with the kids.”
To commemorate Reed’s warm, easygoing personality and his tremendous dedication to his students, the school has established the Neil Reed Scholarship Fund, Herrera said.
Reed is survived by his wife Kelly and young daughters, Marley and Pressley.