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Thomas Reed, co-founder of Clos du Bois and renowned Cold War-era strategist, dies at 89

Former Air Force Secretary Tom Reed, 1934-2024

Former Air Force Secretary Tom Reed, 1934-2024

Clos du Bois winery founder and Cold War-era government insider Thomas C. Reed died Feb. 11 in Santa Rosa following a short illness. He was a month shy of his 90th birthday.

Reed’s stamp on North Bay wine country was in co-founding the Geyserville winery that in the 1980s became one of Wine Country’s most recognizable brands; he put his stamp on the rest of the world as a Cold War strategist and developer of nuclear devices at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the early 1960s.

Reed juggled politics and entrepreneurship throughout his life. He was the Northern California chair of Ronald Reagan’s run for governor in 1966 and later served under Presidents Ford and Carter as secretary of the Air Force. He later served under President Reagan as vice chair of the National Commission on Strategic Forces.

Thomas Reed, circa mid 1970s.

Following his Air Force career, he was managing partner in a Texas-based superconductor company; launched an agricultural, recreational and construction project firm in San Rafael; and partnered with friend Frank Woods in developing a Colorado ski resort. He and Woods went on to found Clos du Bois in 1973.

In the early 1980s, Reed and Woods were accused of insider trading after purchasing stock in a mining company led by Reed’s father just prior to the company receiving a buyout bid by Standard Oil. Reed was indicted on charges of securities fraud by a federal grand jury in Manhattan in 1984 and found not guilty by a jury the following year.

During the 90s, Reed traveled to Ukraine, assisting with the return of over a thousand abandoned nuclear weapons to Russian control, according to his family.

By the 2000s, Reed and wife Kay had settled in the Alexander Valley area of Sonoma County where Reed authored several books focusing on politics and nuclear proliferation. Reed’s later-year interests “were focused on education, trying to find and support the brightest and the best students, the potential innovators and leaders, in Sonoma County,” his family writes on legacy.com.

Reed is survived by his wife Kay, daughter Carolyn Reed Ellis of Napa, son Gordon and wife Kerry, now residents of Buffalo, New York, and son Andrew now residing with his wife Alex in west Santa Rosa. Reed is also survived by seven grandchildren. A celebration of his life is planned for later this year. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Healdsburg Rotary’s scholarship fund.



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