Funeral services for former U.S. Department of Agriculture Assistant Secretary and University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff graduate Pearlie S. Reed, who died a week ago, will be 11 a.m. Friday at Old St. Paul Church in West Memphis.

Funeral services for former U.S. Department of Agriculture Assistant Secretary and University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff graduate Pearlie S. Reed, who died a week ago, will be 11 a.m. Friday at Old St. Paul Church in West Memphis.


Reed, 67, who suffered from heart problems and diabetes, died at Methodist University Hospital in Memphis on April 8, according to an obituary published in The Commercial Appeal in Memphis.


Two days before his passing, Reed called in sick in his new post as an agricultural adviser with UAPB, said School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences Dean Edmund Buckner.


"I knew something was wrong when he called in and couldn’t make it," said Buckner, who’s father, Randall Buckner was a college roommate of Reed at UAPB in 1968. "He never calls in sick. This guy was a tireless worker. When most folks go home to rest, he goes home to work."


Reed’s working career began with a student internship in 1968 with the National Resources Conservation Service in Walnut Ridge, according to his obituary. He graduated from UAPB in 1970, and by 1998 he had risen through the ranks of the NRCS to become chief administrator from 1998 to 2002.


According to Reed’s obituary, he served as state conservationist for several states including Arkansas, Delaware, Maryland and California along with U.S. Territories Guam and Puerto Rico. In that capacity, Reed was responsible for leading soil, water and natural resources conservation efforts.


Under the President Bill Clinton Administration, Reed was appointed to head the USDA’s Civil Rights Action Team, according to the obituary. Clinton adopted all 92 recommendations by Reed’s team.


President Barack Obama appointed Reed as assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and he was confirmed to the post by the U.S. Senate on May 21, 2009, according to his obituary. He retired in June 2012 to work as a consultant out of Marion, Arkansas.


"He has helped us tremendously by helping to provide extension funding and research funding for the university," Buckner said. "He’s also helped by providing scholarship funding for the school of ag.


"I’m not talking about small dollars. He’s helped in providing funding — not just for us — but he’s sent scholarship dollars for students back to all of the land grant universities. He had a special place in his heart for us. "


Buckner said that Reed’s helping hand wasn’t always in terms of dollars, but many times had a more personal touch.


"He would help people progress in their careers — even though they didn’t know he was helping them," Buckner said. "He’s helped not just me, but countless people. They may have thought they were making some of these progressions on their own, but a lot of the time it was because he put in a good word for them or he asked one of the people in the agency to look at this person to see if there was a way to help this person excel.


"I can tell you right now that he was a champion for the School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences," Buckner said. "He was a champion for our school. He was a champion for our university. He was a champion for our students."


Visitation is at 10 a.m. Reed is survived by his wife Lesia and three children.