Gladys Lillian Reed

October 16, 1931 ~ March 13, 2020 (age 88)


On Friday, March 13th, 2020, at the age of 88, Gladys succumbed to a brave four-year battle with cancer at her home in West Knoxville. She was a member of the Oliver Springs Church of Christ and someone that truly exemplified the Christian spirit to those who were around her. Her incredible faith in people and in the Lord never diminished throughout this journey. Gladys was an integral part of the Oak Ridge science and research community, maintaining a multifaceted career as a world-renowned radiation research photographer and graphic designer, actually being the first woman industrial photographer to be professionally listed in the state of Tennessee. She was a strong advocate for women​’​s rights and respect in the workplace and espoused those principles to other strong women that came in contact with her, always encouraging women to follow their dreams and make the world a better place. Kodak Films actually studied her pioneering film development process in the 1960s, which is now known as infrared photography. She began her esteemed career in 1955 with the UT-AEC and continued through the research labs​’ ​transitions to CARL, UT-DOE, Oak Ridge National Labs, and Associate Universities. Through the lens of her camera, she witnessed the first hydroponic plants and the beginning of the genetic modification of seeds as well as the first successful kidney and heart transplants ever performed on animals. She stood shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the greatest scientists in the world, documenting their experiments as they unfolded before her eyes in real time. 

Gladys was preceded in death by the love of her life and husband Ernest L. Reed, her parents Loma Coker Phillips and James Oscar Phillips, her brothers A.O. Phillips and Kenneth Phillips, and her sister Theda Phillips. She is survived by her daughter Deborah Hyatt (Lynn), her son Zane Reed (Jeanine), her daughter Sarah Smith (Oliver), her grandchildren Shane Miller, Shawnt​é ​Miller Whitaker, Candace Hyatt Bailey, Marc Reed, Bryan Reed, Jeff Reed, Olivia Smith, and Crosse Smith, and her great grandchildren Shana and Jake Miller, R.T. and Rylan Stansberry, Blade, Ivy, Aubree, and Ava Reed, and Zane Reed. 

The family would like to give special thanks to all those exceptional caregivers who so lovingly helped us through this difficult time: Kristen Amburn, Mary Lloyd, Amy Farr, and Wendy Thompson. We are forever grateful for their personal care, support, and warm friendship. She wanted to make sure they knew that they were not only her caregivers, but beloved members of her family that she loved dearly. We would also like to extend our deepest gratitude towards those medical professionals that helped lovingly sustain her quality of life: Dr. Susan Newman and her medical staff, including Scott, Megan, Sandra, and others at the University of Tennessee Cancer Institute. Gladys was so fortunate to have had so many friends and relatives whom she deeply cherished, including her constant companion, her dog Bella. 

Due to current world events and concerns, Gladys​’ ​family has decided to hold a small graveside service. A Celebration of Life and memorial service will be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her honor to the University of Tennessee Medical Center and UT Graduate School of Medicine at (865) 305-6611. Sharp Funeral Home of Oliver Springs is serving the family, and the online obituary may be viewed and condolences extended at

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