BY DAVID SINCLAIR
The man for whom the FirstHealth Heart and Vascular Institute is named has died.
Walter Reid III died Tuesday. He was 97. Funeral arrangements are incomplete.
FirstHealth announced during a "topping out" ceremony for the $82 million facility in December 2009 that it would be named for Reid and his wife, Betty, who made the largest donation in the history of the hospital's foundation. The formal name is Reid Heart Center: The FirstHealth Cardiac and Vascular Institute.
The amount of the Reids' contribution was not disclosed, but then-CEO Charles Frock said it was "significant."
The institute formally opened in January, with the first surgery performed in February. It consolidated Moore Regional's cardiac and vascular services into a single location. It includes 27 cardiology/telemetry beds, 30 critical care beds, five cardiac catheterization labs, two electrophysiology suites and six state-of-the-art operating rooms.
"Mr. Reid was an extraordinary man," said Dr. John F. Krahnert, senior medical director of FirstHealth of the Carolinas. "At 97 years of age, he continued to live life to the fullest and had unparalleled energy for sharing vision and creativity.
"Thanks to his involvement and philanthropic commitment to medicine, we continue to move toward an integrated health system and are able to offer the highest quality health care in the Reid Heart Center. I am forever grateful to him."
Reid began his 54-year career in the candy business when he joined his father's New Jersey-based company in 1934. Founded 22 years before, Tropical Charms produced the world's first individually wrapped hard candies.
"I held every job there was in the company, including sweeping the floors," Reid said in an interview for a story in the Dec. 6, 2009, edition of The Pilot about the Heart and Vascular Institute being named for him and his wife.
Reid's career was interrupted when he was called for one-year compulsory military training in 1940. Soon to be married to Lorraine Hyde, a Duke University graduate from Staten Island, N.Y., he joined the Army Signal Corps at Fort Monmouth. He expected to complete his service in December 1941, but Pearl Harbor changed his plans.
When Reid returned to Charms, competition from more than 6,000 candy companies was fierce. The company became the largest producer of hard candy in the world. His father died in 1960.
In the mid-1960s, under Reid's watch, Charms moved into the gum market with Blow Pop, a lollipop with a candy-coated exterior and bubble gum center. Candy Industry magazine named Blow Pop "the most popular lollipop on the planet."
In the 1980s, Reid brought in a business consultant from Boston by the name of Mitt Romney (now a Republican candidate for president and former governor of Massachusetts), who advised him to merge with a compatible company. In 1988, he sold Charms to Tootsie Roll.
"The Blow Pop is how I got Tootsie Roll to buy it," Reid said in the December 2009 interview.
Following in his father's footsteps, Reid served on the board of Monmouth Medical Center, one of New Jersey's largest academic medical centers and an affiliate of Philadelphia's Drexel University College of Medicine, for nearly 35 years. He founded the Mid-Atlantic Health Group, the holding company for Monmouth Medical Center and Manchester Regional Hospital in 1981, and became chairman of the board of governors in 1986.
He stepped down in 1992. The president and CEO of Mid-Atlantic wrote, "I have worked with scores of leading American businessmen and bankers. Only a scant handful have been constructive individuals of character, wisdom and wit. You are one of those few people."
Walter and Lorraine Reid were avid golfers who were attracted to Pinehurst, where they had visited his parents after the war, staying at the old Pine Needles Hotel. In 1967, they decided to buy a winter home at the Country Club of North Carolina, splitting their time between Pinehurst and New Jersey until permanently retiring here in 2000.
In the early 1990s, Walter Reid began to have multiple health problems that required extensive treatment at Moore Regional Hospital. Lorraine succumbed to cancer a few months after she and Walter moved to Belle Meade.
It was there that he met up again with Betty Smith, also a widow, whom he had met soon after coming to CCNC. Walter and Lorraine had been friends with Smith and her husband, Jim, who died in 1998.They soon realized their almost 30-year friendship had become something more. They were married in The Village Chapel in 2000.
Walter Reid became involved with Moore Regional Hospital in 1986, when fellow CCNC member Hal Stevens invited him to join the Scroll Society, the "cornerstone" of the Foundation's continued growth.
He was intrigued by the success of the organization Stevens had established 10 years earlier to broaden the Foundation's base of philanthropic support and which then rested on the generosity of a fairly small number of prominent families.
He developed an even stronger interest in FirstHealth after permanently moving here and experiencing firsthand the state-of-the-art medical equipment, technology and facilities, as well as cutting-edge treatments and innovative services, offered at Moore Regional.
One big reason for that interest, he said, was Krahnert, a cardiothoracic surgeon who started the hospital's open heart surgery program in 1990.
"We have one of the most successful heart programs in North Carolina," Reid said in the Dec. 6, 2009, story. "Whey they announced the development of the heart hospital, we just felt it was important to support the construction of this facility. The philanthropic support from this community is outstanding. That has helped provide the community with an outstanding hospital."
The FirstHealth Foundation raised $35 million for the construction of the heart institute through the Stepping Stone campaign.
The FirstHealth board voted in November 2009 to name the new heart hospital for the Reids, who became members of the Foundation of FirstHealth board in 2006.
"We are extremely grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Reid, not only for their financial generosity, but also for their contributions of time and talent to our organization," Frock said in 2009. "This is a first for Moore Regional Hospital and for FirstHealth of the Carolinas. Never before, in the eight-decade history of our organization, have we recognized individuals in this manner, a fact that attests to the very high regard in which we hold this remarkable couple."