GEORGE WILLIAM REED
REED, GEORGE WILLIAM, Attorney at Law, Oakland, Cal., was born in Vassalboro, Maine, June 14, 1852, the son of William and Hannah Carleton (Hall) Reed. Coming to Oakland when he was about four years old he has grown up with that city and has attained a notable position. On January 15, 1891, some years after the death of his first wife, he was married to Miss Georgia Alice Brown. By the first marriage he is the father of Mabel Linden Reed (now Mrs. Harry A. Lane of Los Angeles) and Clarence Munroe Reed, member of the firm of Reed, Black & Reed. Another son, Russell Albert Reed, died at the age of seventy-one years.
From 1858 to 1864 Mr. Reed attended the public schools of Oakland, subsequently entering the Brayton School of the same city, and in '72 was graduated from the University of California.
He then studied law with the intention of beginning his legal career as soon as possible, but at the end of four years was appointed Deputy County Clerk, under his brother, Charles G. Reed. This position he held for four years, continuing his law studies in the meantime, and in December, 1879, was admitted to practice.
Until 1883 Mr. Reed was a law clerk in the office of A. A. Moore, at which time he became a partner of the firm of Moore & Reed, which soon built up an extensive and profitable business. In 1888 he was elected District Attorney of Alameda County, and was re-elected in 1890. Not long after the expiration of his second term he formed the partnership of Reed & Nusbaumer. This for eleven years was one of the leading legal firms of Oakland, doing a large civil business, especially in probate matters and damage cases. At the end of this period Mr. Reed organized the present firm of Reed, Black & Reed, which in addition to an extensive probate practice has a considerable corporation clientele.
Among the especially important cases with which Mr. Reed was associated, and in which points of law were settled for the State of California, was that of Bacon vs. Davis, which involved the question of a real estate contract to sell property, and a large piece of land on Broadway. This was bitterly contested, and the judgment of the Court of Appeals, which had reversed the decision of the lower court, was confirmed by the Supreme Court’s denial of the petition for a rehearing. Still more noteworthy was the case, which is now a leading one, of Martial Davoust vs. the City of Alameda. The wife of the plaintiff while walking on the streets of Alameda had been killed by a broken electric wire, and the corporation held that as a public concern it was not liable. Through the efforts of Mr. Reed and his associates this point was established: “Although municipal corporations are not liable for the negligence of their officers or servants when acting in their governmental, political or public capacity, in the absence of a statute permitting it, yet when the injury arises from the exercise of mere proprietary and private rights they are liable for negligence, like individuals or private corporations.” The Butters will contest, in which Mr. Reed was one of the counsel, attracted wide interest, both in the profession and with the public generally. This was a contest to set aside the will of Lucie B. Butters, which involved half a million dollars, for the benefit of eight heirs, all of whom now get an equal share.
Mr. Reed has always been an ardent and active Republican. From 1907 to 1908, inclusive, he was chairman of the Republican County Central Committee, and was also a delegate to the national conventions of 1900, 1904 and 1908. He was a member of Victor Metcalf’s Congressional Committee, and is still on that of Joseph R. Knowland.
While at the University Mr. Reed was a member of the Varsity baseball nine, and is still an ardent “fan”. The indulgence of this taste and that of angling in California’s mountain streams are about the only forms of recreation he permits himself.
His firm are now attorneys for the Union Savings Bank of Oakland, the Permanent Guarantee and Loan Society, and several other corporations. He is also a trustee of the Cogswell Polytechnic College of San Francisco, and a director of the California Institute for the Deaf, Dumb and Blind at Berkeley.
He is a Mason, a Past Exalted Ruler of the Elks, an Odd Fellow and a member of the State of Maine Association.
He is a member of the Athenian Club of Oakland and the Zeta Psi Fraternity of the University of California.
Transcribed by Marie Hassard 11 October 2010.
Source: Press Reference Library, Western Edition Notables of the West, Vol. I, Page 497, International News Service, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Atlanta. 1913.
© 2010 Marie Hassard .