A postcard from the edge
By Alexandra Reed Lajoux

IN MEMORIAM A postcard from the edge Dad's message: 'Corporate America is in trouble, and ifs time for a change!' Remembering Stanley Foster Reed (1917-2007), founder O/DIRECTORS & BOARDS. BY ALEXANDRA REED LAJOUX O N OCTOBER 25, 2007, at 3:25 P.M., my father, Stan- ley Foster Reed, took his last breath. An attending physi- cian put it well: "To die peacefully at 90 surrounded by loved ones after a full life ... It doesn't get better than that." The doctor's words consoled me. So too did the condolences expressed by dear friends, including Jim Kristie, wor- thy longtime editor of DIRECTORS & BOARDS, a publication my father found- ed in 1976. When Jim asked me to write an account of the journal's founding years, I readily agreed. How could I say no to the man whose editorial genius has preserved what may be my father's most important legacy? The early years of DIRECTORS & BOARDS seem like days ago, although more than three decades have passed since then. It was a late October day at the Center for Superior Studies of Me- dieval Civilization in Poitiers, France, anno Domini 1975, when I first received news about my father's plans for a new publication in a postcard signed "Dad." What a surprise! Not the publication — the card. Such niceties weren't my dad's style. Known as Stanley Foster Reed and usually signing as SFR, my father, typically clad in Brooks Brothers suits, had a million talents, including musical composition and gourmet cooking, but he harbored little interest in the minor sentimentalities. At six feet tall, with charm that could light a room and a chip on his shoulder that could blow the lights out, he was larger than life. "There are three kinds of people," he often said. "The ones who care about ideas, the ones who care about things, and the ones who care about people." 28 DIRECTORS ft BOARDS Stanley Foster Reed (circa W90s}: 'For my father, boards represented an authority that needed shaking up.' —Alexandra Reed Lajoux The last two kinds were beneath him. He was interested in ideas. Big ideas. Lots of them. My father, who read and remembered every volume of History of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant, lived and breathed the history of ideas and longed to play a starring role in it. Ironically, it was in the world of things — or, more precisely, the engineering of things — that my father had made his first and biggest financial mark and showed the magnitude of his creative intelligence. At the age of 23, as a self- taught engineer, he laid the foundation for Reed Research, where slide rulers, pulleys, levers, and blueprints would dominate his life for two decades as he filed patent after patent and built a team of foreign-born scientists that helped America win the war and preserve peace. In the 1950s, my elementary school forms proudly identified my father's profession as "Inventor." After he sold Reed Research, my fa- ther immersed himself in the process of producing quarterly journals and writ- ing books for the rest of his life. By age 90, after founding four journals, writing three books, countless articles, a website, and part of an opera (about Thomas Jef- ferson and Sally Hemings), he had spent his very last penny leaving a rich legacy of ideas far more valuable than anything that could be put into a bank account. One of those ideas was the notion that boards of directors could be an impor- tant and positive force for change in a free economy. His 1975 postcard to me said (if memory serves), "I'm starting a new publication about the governance of companies. Corporate America is in trouble, and it's time for a change!" At the time all I cared about was the Carolingian Empire, so I tucked the card away and didn't give it another thought. But three years later, 1 asked my father for summer employment, and soon found myself the senior editor of his DIREC- TORS & BOARDS. The job gave me the opportunity to see my father engaged in the great issues of the day, and to gain a lasting interest in them myself. Of all the publications my father founded — including Mergers & Ac- quisitions, Campaigns & Elections, and Export Todays DIRECTORS & BOARDS may have been his most prized. IN MEMORIAM Although he didn't earn a sheepskin until late in life, when he got an Execu- tive MBA from Loyola College, my fa- ther was an academic at heart. He called DIRECTORS & BOARDS a "journal" and insisted on footnotes and bibliographies with almost every article. He cherished the copies lim would send him over the years, and often cited tbem in bis course when he became Entrepreneur in Resi- dence at tbe College of Charleston. Wby tbe fascination? Corporate boards represented many things to my father. Boards were a smithy where the captains of enterprise could make de- cisions about capital, land, and labor based on good ideas (sbades of Marx and Schumpeter). In the late 1970s, Corporate America had moral leader- ship from individuals such as Irving Shapiro of Dupont, and tbe Securities and Excbange Commission was headed by Harold Williams — giant men in large organizations wrestling witb the great social issues of the day. My father, fiercely independent by nature, had never worked for a large company, so Alexandra Reed Lajoux is chief knowledge officer and corporate secre- tary of the National Association of Corporate Directors. She served in a lead- ership role with DIRECTORS & BOARDS during and after her father's ownership of the journal. the field of governance held a magnetic pull for him. Boards also represented authority tbat needed sbaking up. One of the ear- liest articles extolled tbe sbareholder gadflies Wilma Soss, Evelyn Y. Davis, and the legendary Gilbert brotbers, John and Lewis. The mid-'70s was the era of tbe Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the Employee Retirement Income Se- curity Act, following scandals featuring corporate leaders perceived as corrupt or uncaring. Tbis Corporate Establisb- ment was tbe perfect foil for my fatber, who grew up in the Depression, raised by parents who could trace their ances- try back to the Pilgrims but who could barely afford a turkey at Thanksgiving. Conversely, and most personally, corporate boards also represented an establisbment my father longed to join. A major part of his energy was spent at- tending high society events witb people who had gone to Ivy League schools based on fortunes buih by tbeir ances- tors. My fatber, wbose own Tory ances- tors bad been banisbed to Canada after they picked the wrong side in the Revo- lutionary War and who spent 100 years trying to make it back up tbrough the middle class in America, must have felt like an outsider among his own kind. So despite, or perhaps because of, all his activities, my fatber must bave been lonely. But in tbe end, after living his full life, he did find peace and reach out to tbe people — yes, people — he loved. And tbe good doctor was right. It doesn't get better than that. • The author can be contacted at arlajoux® nacdonline.org. What you don't know, most certainly can hurt you i Industry leading Investigative Due Diligence and FCPA Risk Mitigation. 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