Memorial service
Tuesday, Sep. 10, 2019
5:00 PM
Kirby Horton Hall @ Sarah P. Duke Gardens
Durham, NC
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Michael Reedy

Michael Reedy Obituary
Dr. Michael K. Reedy


Dr. Michael Reedy, Professor Emeritus, Department of Cell Biology, Duke University, died June 18th, 2019, the day before his 85th birthday. He was visiting family in Seattle when he suffered a massive stroke, on June 15th. Dr. Reedy had gone for a swim with his nephew in Lake Washington, while family prepared an early birthday celebration. His stroke began upon returning to their car and he was rushed to the hospital. Three days later the family made the difficult decision to remove life support, and he passed peacefully, surrounded by loved ones.

Michael was the oldest of five siblings, born in Seattle, but his early childhood was lived in Tanana, Alaska. His family moved back to Seattle when he entered middle school, attending Meany and then Garfield. Mike left high school his senior year, when the University of Chicago offered him a scholarship. In 1961, he graduated from the University of Washington Medical School, where he fell in love with the electron microscope and muscle structure. After medical school he completed a postdoc in the lab of Hugh Huxley, at the MRC-LMB, Cambridge, England. His postdoctoral research resulted in a seminal paper supporting the swinging crossbridge theory of muscle contraction, published in Nature, 1965.

Dr. Reedy was on the faulty at UCLA for three years, before being courted by the head of Anatomy at Duke University. Mike joined Duke's faculty in 1969, moving to Durham, with his first wife, Deirdre, and their two children, Tad & Heather. He stayed at Duke through his department's merge into Cell Biology and remained until his retirement.

Mike's love for muscle structure and function was immediately obvious to anyone who spoke with him. He was affable and enthusiastic. That enthusiasm was his special gift as a scientist, enabling him to assemble and motivate diverse teams of scientists from around the world. His teams pioneered rapid freezing of muscle to give 1-ms snapshots of actively contracting muscle with electron microscopy, and later developed real-time live action X-ray movies of contracting muscle.

Mike's second wife, and scientific partner, Mary Reedy, uniquely blessed his life and work for many decades. They shared a love and enthusiasm that was palpable—and manifested in the birth of their son, Carter, in 1974. Their partnership came to an end when Mary lost her battle with breast cancer in 2008.

Dr. Reedy had the distinction of maintaining a single NIH R01 grant to study muscle throughout his long career, continuously funded for 44 years, until retiring in September of 2016. He retained his sunny outlook on life and remained active: traveling for pleasure, visiting family & friends, swimming regularly, and still coming into the lab at Duke. He was a bright light in the lives of many, and will be sorely missed.

Michael's youngest brother, Terry, preceded him in death, August 2018. Mike is survived by siblings: Sharon, Diane and Pat; first wife and friend: Deirdre; children: Tad, Heather (& Dan), and Carter (& Angie); grandchildren: Mim, Franklin, Marisol and Nayeli; dear family friends & caregivers: Nancy and Rebecca—and numerous cousins, nieces, nephews and their families. Memorial: Sept. 10th, 5:00pm, Kirby Horton Hall @ Sarah P. Duke Gardens, Durham.
Published in The News & Observer on July 12, 2019
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