“Carol Reed was a woman who took every hand she was dealt, and played it well. She was bigger than life, had political skills second to none, a loyal friend, and deeply loved Dallas.”
This came from her dear friend Chris Heinbaugh, vice president of external affairs at AT&T Performing Arts Center, a former reporter for WFAA-TV (Channel 8) and former Dallas Mayor Leppert’s chief of staff.
Carol Reed, for years the city’s most powerful campaign strategist often called “the mayor-maker” passed Thursday morning, with daughters Laura and Angela at her side.
“Now, before you get too teary eyed, you have to know, Carol would have none of that. In fact, right now she is likely looking down on us all, wearing a leopard print, a pashmina tossed around her neck and that incredible smile saying, “What a ride!” Can’t you just hear her? That’s exactly how you’d expect Carol to end one journey, and begin another – with gusto! She’s probably already trying to track down a Jaguar dealer in heaven!” writes Chris.
Carol may not have been directly employed in this city’s real estate business, but her hard work, her dedication, vision, perseverance and energy made every piece of dirt in this city more valuable.
I got to know Carol about seven years ago when I was invited to dinner at her famous Salon 3C, a private dinner party with exquisite food, excellent wine, and the best conversation one could have sharing the table (and wagu beef) with others of divergent background and opinion. The famous dinners took place in Reed’s Turtle Creek condo, put on by Reed, Chris and Craig Holcomb: evening soirees where the three and five rotating guests (political and civic leaders, journalists, artists, philanthropists and deep thinkers du jour) gathered, invited only once, creating a deeply unique conversation.
I remember this vividly: Carol was not at all a fan of Trump, but she told me he would win the Republican nomination.
“Carol was a great storyteller who could laugh at herself. For almost eleven years we’ve had our dinners and holiday parties, Carol shared her colorful stories that left everyone knowing so much more about Dallas. Craig and I had no illusions. Carol was always the star of the show. And she deeply believed in the power of bringing people together. She would say, “If you break bread with people – even those you disagree with – you can find common ground.” says Chris.
He adds: Carol moved the needle. All of us, and our city, are better because of it.
And I will add: our real estate is better for it, better because of Carol Reed.
According to a beautiful tribute written by Cheryl Hall in The Dallas Morning News, Reed was a wife and mother, originally from Thousand Oaks California, who moved to Texas, and had two daughters within nine months and one week of each other. She got started in Republican politics by volunteering, became a political director for Sen. John Tower, worked for the Reagan-Bush presidential campaign, and was the North Texas political director for then U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm.
After four decades as a campaign strategist, Reed managed Ron Kirk’s 1995 campaign and he became Dallas’ first black mayor. She also handled successful mayoral campaigns for Jack Evans, Starke Taylor and Tom Leppert. When Ron Kirk ran for the U.S. senate, Reed, a Republican, ran the Democratic candidate’s campaign.
Hall writes: “Reed helped sway voters in crucial local issues, including bond elections and referendums for two Trinity River projects, American Airlines Center, AT&T Stadium, the Dallas Convention Center hotel, Parkland Hospital and numerous educational campaigns.”
Without American Airlines Center, there would be no W Hotel and Condos, towers one and two.
She was also known for her extensive community work and fund-raising, benefitting places we talk about now daily: Klyde Warren Park, Perot Museum of Nature and Science, African American Museum, the Real Estate Council, Friends of Dallas Police, Dallas Symphony Association and St. Philip’s School and Community Center, Pioneer Plaza, the Dallas Police Memorial, the annual Fair Park Fourth, the Fair Park Dog Bowl, a Presbyterian elder who even served lunches at the Stewpot.
Carol Reed was a big Dallas personality, but even bigger was her heart. What she accomplished in her 72 years was twenty-fold what many accomplish in a lifetime. She will be missed, and Dallas real estate and the city skyline owe Carol Reed a huge round of gratitude.