Beloved Union Leader Dies at 37

Howard Reid, co-founder and vice- president of the Harvard security guards’ union, died from complications after stomach surgery last Thursday at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. He was 37.

Colleagues remember Reid for his efforts in fighting for all workers at the University.

“He was a union guy, he was a working class union guy right to his bones,” said Danny Meagher, current president of the Harvard University Security, Parking, and Museum Guards’ Union (HUSPMGU), which Reid established with Steve McCombe in 1995. “Howard was totally fearless when it came to confronting management over contract issues for the workers. He never hesitated to do the right thing.”

Reid began his job at Harvard in December 1987 and has worked 24 hours each week at the Widener gate ever since.

After serving as HUSPMGU secretary under McCombe, he became vice president last September.

Reid constantly threw himself into the midst of labor conflict, Meagher said, working assertively but graciously with all levels of Harvard labor management.

He was closely involved in September’s contract negotiations and the resulting increase in pay and benefits for Harvard’s security, museum and parking guards—both within HUSPMGU and without.

Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) Chief Francis D. “Bud” Riley said Reid was a person of “integrity and honesty.”

“HUPD and I are saddened by the loss of Howard Reid,” he said. “He was a good employee and a good co-worker, and he represented the membership of the union very well. He will be sorely missed.”

While at Harvard, Reid loved to learn. He took classes in management, working toward a degree at the Division for Continuing Education.

McCombe, who retired from Harvard and the union in September, said he and Reid were “the best of friends.”

He added that the burly guard was well-liked by the many students and faculty he interacted with.

“He had a good sense of humor and a good heart,” McCombe said.

Reid is survived by a wife, Yolanda, and three children. His wake and funeral will be held on the evening of Jan. 16 at the Russo Funeral Home in Roslindale.

—Staff writer Laura L. Krug can be reached at