Marvin R. Reed, Jr., who served as the mayor of Princeton Borough for more than a decade, died peacefully on Oct. 12 after a lengthy battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 89 years old.
A resident of the greater Princeton area for more than 60 years, he moved to Stonebridge at Montgomery in Skillman five years ago.
Born July 30 of 1931 to Marie and Marvin R. Reed Sr. in Vineland, Marvin lived his early years in South Jersey. He graduated from Vineland High School in 1948 and attended Rutgers University on a state scholarship. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1952.
Shortly after college, Marvin was drafted into the U.S. Army at the time of the Korean War. After his initial training, he was sent to the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala., where he was selected to work on the guided missile system program. His service and experience in the South and at the Arsenal would forever shape his lifelong commitment to public service and civil rights.
After his discharge in 1954, he began a 31-year career with the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) in Trenton as the assistant editor of the NJEA magazine. His professional career evolved quickly, and he soon became director of Communications for the NJEA. He also took on leadership roles in New Jersey school and college development efforts and taxation and municipal reform issues until his retirement in 1986.
In 1957, Marvin discovered Princeton while living with several friends on Jefferson Road. His life changed forever in 1958 when he met Ingrid Wagner, also from Vineland, who was working in New York City while he was in the New York University graduate communication program. They were married a year later in Vineland and settled in Princeton. They soon became active members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Princeton.
In 1961, the Reeds purchased their first home in one of Morris Milgram’s planned communities called Glen Acres in West Windsor – a small cluster of suburban homes designed specifically to foster the integration of Black and white families. Marvin and Ingrid would go on to have two children, David and Liza. The family felt lucky to spend their childhood growing up in this special place and continue to maintain connections with their many Glenview Drive neighbors.
In 1974, the Reeds moved to Princeton Borough, where their family could walk and bike to town and school. In 1984, then mayor of Princeton Borough Barbara Sigmund asked Marvin to run for a seat on the borough council, which he won. Following Sigmund’s death in 1990, Marvin became mayor following Sigmund’s death and held the post for 13 years.
Marvin will be remembered for his contributions to dozens of public projects at the local, regional, and state levels, as well as his management of the relationship between the Princeton community and Princeton University. He led the effort to redevelop the Princeton Public Library, the Albert Hinds Plaza, adjacent retail spaces, and the Spring Street parking garage. In addition to town administration and policy development responsibilities, he enjoyed presiding over weddings and was proud to have married more than 500 couples during his tenure While mayor, he served on the executive committee for the League of Municipalities and chaired its cable television study. He was also appointed to New Jersey’s Local Unit Alignment, Reorganization and Consolidation Commission, and served as president of Downtown New Jersey.
Following his years as mayor, Marvin served as chair of the redevelopment task force of New Jersey Future, was a member of the Princeton Planning Board, and took an integral role in the relocation of Princeton Hospital and the redevelopment of the hospital’s former location.
In 2018, Marvin and Ingrid were awarded the Leslie ‘Bud’ Vivian Award for Community Service by the Princeton Area Community Foundation, honoring their combined lifetime of service to dozens of local, regional, and state level projects, committees, and organizations.
Throughout their adult lives, Marvin and Ingrid maintained a strong interest in the arts and travel. They were enthusiastic supporters of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, Princeton Opera Festival, and the Arts Council of Princeton. As followers of theatre, opera, and film, they often made these activities the focal point of their travel adventures around the world, including memorable visits to Colmar, France, the American West, and regular visits to the island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. In lieu of a traditional vacation home, they bought a small apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in partnership with good friends. The apartment was a magnet for family gatherings as well as providing a home base for their energetic interest in everything New York City.
Marvin is survived by Ingrid, his wife of 60 years, son David Reed and his wife Nan of Orinda, Calif., and daughter Liza O’Reilly and her husband Tom of Hingham, Mass., as well as granddaughters Cecilia, Jacquelyn, and Agnes O’Reilly, and grandson Owen Reed.
To celebrate Marvin’s life, his family suggests a walk around downtown Princeton, a ride on the FreeB Marvin I or Marvin II, a visit to the Princeton Public Library, a stop at Hinds Plaza, or a donation to Princeton Community Housing (pchhomes.org) to honor his commitment to affordable housing and helping people live a better life.