11/9/1917 - 8/28/2020

A life well lived

Edith Carlquist Reed passed peacefully in her sleep Friday afternoon, August 28th, 2020, in her home in Salt Lake City, Utah.

She was born in Salt Lake City, in her family home near Liberty Park, November 9, 1917 to C.H. and Ethel Rich Carlquist.

She was the middle sister of nine siblings, eight of whom were born in their Salt Lake City home.

They were all taught to read before attending school, "for self-defense," according to their mother.

She attended Emerson Elementary school, a school she would later return to as a teacher.

Her family moved to Draper when she was a young woman. She called it "a rural town of great beauty."

For a time, she stayed behind to help her grandmother, then joined her family in the farm house, which still stands today on Pioneer Road.

The Carlquist home was where she sat at the sewing machine, pedaling her feet, making clothes for the family. They no longer had the iceman stopping by each week as they did in their Salt Lake home so their dairy products were kept cold in a box in the nearby stream, coming down from Bell's Canyon. One of her favorite treats came straight out of the pickle barrel in the yard.

When she attended Draper Junior High, she skipped down the road to school.

Perhaps her excitement was because she had the cherished role of playing the cymbals in the band, or playing piano for the orchestra.

She gave her first piano lessons when the wife of the bishop of her Draper ward asked her to teach their daughter, Margaret.

Edith was only 15 years old at the time. After that, many others in the town asked her to teach their children. It was the beginning of nearly 90 years of teaching piano students.

Each week, Edith traveled to Salt Lake for her piano lessons.

In high school, she walked from the old Jordan High School building to Sandy Junction and caught the bus into the city. She transferred to the streetcar on 100 South, got off at 200 South, and walked to her teacher’s home on Douglas Street. She studied with Agnes Dahlquist Beckstrand, who had spent several years at the Berlin Conservatory of Music. Edith stayed the night in the small maid’s room. In the early morning, she caught the streetcar back, riding with a crowd of workers. While attending Jordan High she set the goal to attend college, saving her money from teaching piano lessons.

Edith earned her degree from the University of Utah with majors in dance and piano.

She then went on to Columbia Teachers College where she earned her master’s in piano pedagogy. She briefly returned to Utah and taught at Emerson Elementary, her own primary school. When she could afford it, she returned to New York and began studying at Julliard, where she had a powerful, personal experience praying about the Book of Mormon. The light that filled her room not only filled her testimony with faith but stayed with her for her entire life. She left Julliard in the middle of the term to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Initially, she was asked to serve in Boston, but told them she had too many friends there and would find it hard to stay focused.

She was sent to the Northern California Mission and served as a missionary there.

In addition to sharing the gospel, she gave many concerts, helping raise funds for building a chapel. Upon completion of her mission, she went to the superintendent of the school in Santa Rosa, told them her experience and education, and was immediately hired to teach music (and a little math) for the middle school. On a Christmas vacation trip home to Utah, she met John Grant Reed, and they became engaged to marry. When he met her, she wore a beautiful red velvet hat. She would gain an instant family: John’s 14-year old son, Byron, and 10-year old daughter, Barbara.

They married in the Salt Lake Temple, sealed for eternity by LDS Apostle John A. Widtsoe.

They then moved to Hoytsville, Utah, where John began teaching seminary and Edith taught piano. For decades, even after they moved to their Salt Lake City home, Edith continued teaching countless students in Hoytsville and in nearby Coalville and Henefer. From 1949 until 2020, she taught; emphasizing rhythm, hand shape, and passing a love of music to many blessed students; often while bouncing one of her own babies on her knee. Edith raised eight children and her two step children in their 600 East home, where she lived until the day she died.

Edith was known in her community as both a piano prodigy and gifted gardener.

She was recognized with an award from the Utah Music Teachers’ Association for Advocacy in Action when she was 100 years old. It represented her indelible impact and dedication, serving as an active member of the association for decades, as well as many years as the festival chair for the Utah Federation of Music Clubs. As a gardener, she created an English cottage garden tucked into the Liberty-Wells neighborhood, receiving many gardening awards. She also worked and taught classes as a Temple Square gardener. She passed on that hard work and art of landscaping to her children and grandchildren, teaching them by example, and working in her garden up until her passing. In her later years, she taught many of her great-grandchildren and was teaching up until just days before she died. Between music, gardening, and life, she enjoyed countless friendships with extended family and community.

Edith sat in her chair, on her last night, and did her NYTimes Crossword puzzle. She held up a magnifying glass to read it—her failing eyesight couldn’t keep her sharp mind at bay.

That day, she also told family members that she had energy to take care of things, but seemed to know she would soon return home to her Heavenly Father and those who had gone before her.

On her final day, she woke in the morning and did her workouts. She lifted her dumbbells, which worked her muscles and helped her handle her osteoporosis and arthritis. She was plagued by both for years, but her grit and determination powered through the pain. Her spirit was always stronger than her body, and that was an accomplishment in itself.

Her key to a long life was “grit and gratitude with a grin.”  Every child, grandchild and great grandchild heard her say, “Always remember that I love you.”

Edith is survived by her children Annabel (Scott) Peterson, John (Kai) Reed, Meredith (Clark) Campbell, Philip Reed, Bethany (Eliot) Brinton, and Paul Reed; her 27 grandchildren, and 62 great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, John, her daughters, Elizabeth and Natalie, and her step children, Byron and Barbara.

Visitation and funeral information on Memorial.

Share her musical legacy

Contribute to Edith's scholarship endowment at the University of Utah. We'd love it if you could make a gift on her behalf to the School of Music. Click on the link and click on "make a gift" next to School of Music Scholarships. Under "add special instructions", please enter Edith Carlquist Reed Endowed Scholarship.