Ruth Sylvania “Sylvia” (Reed) Reuter was born on February 15, 1906, in Triplett, Chariton County, Missouri, the daughter of Albert Ora and Virginia “Jennie” May (Scott) Reed.  (The Prescott Courier obituary on May 6, 1981, erroneously designates “Albert and Jennifer Ora” as her parents, and other sources designate Southfork (South Fork), Howell County, Missouri as her place of birth.)  She was the fourth of six children.

With Albert’s death in 1908 and Jennie’s death in 1914, the orphaned children were “taken in” by various relatives.  In 1915, at age nine, Sylvia was living in Ladore, Neosho County, Kansas, with a step-grand-uncle, John P. Campbell, and his family.  At age thirteen in 1920, she was living in West Plains, Howell County, Missouri, with her married older sister Virginia May (Reed) Bean and her single older sister Susan Myrtle.   She reportedly also lived for a time with her Aunt Marion Girardot and her husband Steve in Colorado, before the Girardots moved to Arizona.  Her half-sister Rose and her brother Luther were living with the Girardot family in Congress, Yavapai County, Arizona, in 1920.  It is conceivable that when Rose married William Pike of Yarnell, Yavapai County, in 1920, Sylvia joined the couple at their ranch in Yarnell, for Sylvia reportedly came to Prescott, Yavapai County, in the 1920s from Yarnell.

Although Sylvia’s obituaries and an Arizona BPW book published in 1998 (see below) state that Sylvia graduated from Prescott High School in 1923, Sylvia does not appear in the 1923 high school yearbook as a graduating senior, nor as a junior, sophomore, or freshman.  It is likely that she earned her high school degree elsewhere.

In late October 1926, Sylvia married Elbert John “Dutch” Reuter (1896-1975), a linotype printer who came to Prescott around 1923 from Indiana.  The Prescott Evening Courier (October 27, 1926) announced that the couple would be married in New Mexico.  The 1928 City Directory of Prescott shows Elbert and Sylvia living at 219 Park Avenue.  In 1929 they lived at 647 Miller Avenue (now Miller Valley Road).  Elbert became a member of the Smoki People (1924) and the Elks Lodge No. 330 and was eventually the owner and operator of the Prescott Printing Company.  Sylvia served as the bookkeeper for her husband’s business.  They co-owned The Yavapai County Messenger (1945- ), for which Sylvia worked as a reporter, columnist, and office manager. Elbert and Sylvia’s one and only child, John “Jack” Harold Reed, was born August 13, 1932, when they were residing at Miller Road.  (It should be noted that the birth certificate spells Sylvia’s maiden name “Reid.”)

Sylvia contributed significantly to social and business life of the community in Prescott from 1927 onwards.   She served as the Chieftess of the Smoki People in 1939.  She was a member of the Monday Club (president, 1942-43).  She became a member of the Prescott Business and Professional Women’s Club in 1952 and served as chairman of many committees; second vice president; first vice president; president (1965); and was named the 1958-59 “Woman of the Year.”  On the state level, she served as legislative chairman, national convention chairman, second vice president, and first vice president.  She was the instigator of the Prescott BPW Club’s Christmas Lighting project on the Yavapai County Courthouse (1955), having fondly remembered the lighting of the courthouse in Denver when she was a child.  She also was elected as a member of the Prescott School Board for a five-year term from 1960 to 1965, and was president of the board from 1964 to 1965.  She was also a member of the Yavapai Republican Women’s Club and reportedly was a friend of Barry Goldwater, Arizona politician and member of the Smoki People.  She belonged to the Order of Eastern Star and the First Congregational Church, and she served as Mother Advisor to the Rainbow Assembly, a youth organization for young women associated with the Eastern Star.

An avid gardener, Sylvia was a member (and the 1954-55 president) of the Alta Vista Garden Club. Officials of the club once chose her garden at 1460 N. Miller Valley Road as “Garden of the Month.”  In her nomination for the Rose Garden her son Jack stated, “Mom loved the out of doors and especially Arizona.  Her great passion was her garden.  The best times were with her many friends in the back yard.”

In a 1961 Prescott Courier article Sylvia expressed her views about the progress of women in civic, professional, and political life.  “Right now I am enthusiastic about what seems to be an accelerated interest in the viewpoints of women.  This interest may be occasioned by the entrance of women into many fields of endeavor which, heretofore, were engaged in by men only…such as data processing, mathematics, and engineering.  Political science is another area that is drawing an increasing number of women and one for which women are, by nature and training, particularly suited. … Now, in this state, there is a movement on to establish an Arizona Commission on the Status of Women.  All local club women should support it to the fullest extent.”  In keeping with this statement, Sylvia made a bid for GOP state representative in 1962.

Elbert died in 1975, and Sylvia died on May 4, 1981. Their son Jack scattered their ashes on Granite Mountain in Prescott.

Further information about Sylvia Reuter may be found in Arizona Federation of Business and Professional Women: Women Who Made a Difference, 1921-1988, Vol. II, (1998).

Donor:  Alta Vista Garden Club - Leslie Yost and Michael Reed, Reed family historians, were helpful in providing additional information for this revised and updated biographical sketch.
Photo Located: Prescott Courier Negative Collection, PC-5 – Box 11, F-1 – January 26, 1965
Updated:  1/27/2018, Tom Collins