Neil E. Reid was born in Bruce Township, of Macomb County, Michigan, on April 24, 1871. Both his paternal and maternal ancestors came from Scotland and settled in Macomb County.
In the rural schools of Bruce Township, Reid mastered the elementary branches of learning and afterward attended high school in Almont and in Romeo. A scholarship gave him the benefit of a year’s attendance at Harvard University. Taking up the study of shorthand, he became the court stenographer in Mount Clemens in July of 1894.
While in law school, he worked for three dollars a week as a law clerk. He graduated from the Detroit College of Law with an LL.B. degree in 1896. Governor Fred W. Warner appointed Reid judge of the Probate Court, over which he presided for 13 years. He had a reputation for being a tough judge, especially with cases regardng prohibition violators and armed robbers.
Reid won his seat on the Michigan Supreme Court by defeating incumbent Bert Chandler. His campaign was deemed a “postcard” campaign in that he sent all his friends postcards requesting their votes. Reid credited his “many friends” for the victory. He began his service on the Court in 1944.
On January 4, 1900, Reid married Maude C. Rowley of Mount Clemens; the couple had no children. He was well known in fraternal circles, and he served as Most Illustrious Grand Master of Royal and Select Masters of the State in 1926 and 1927. In 1930, Reid was elected Grand Marshal in the Masonic Grand Lodge and served in successive offices of the Grand Lodge until his election in 1936 as Most Worshipful Grand Master. For two years he was president of the Boy Scout County Council and president of the Macomb County Republican Club. As hobbies, he enjoyed hunting and fishing. (Michigan: A Centennial History of the State and its People, Vol. V. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1939.)
Reid was described as a six foot four, gaunt, yet colorful man. Neil E. Reid died of a heart attack on May 4, 1956, while still employed by the Court.
Portrait presented on: (Click link to read transcript)
January 23, 2002
Oil on canvas
30″ X 40″
State of Michigan
Hall of Justice – 6th Floor:
Justice Viviano’s Suite
Portrait photo by:
Robert Maniscalco, October 2001