Gov. DeSantis orders flags at half-staff to honor Betty Reed
RIP: Betty Reed was a Image via Florida House.

Bety Reed
Reed became known as a fierce advocate for education, children and mothers during her life.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has ordered flags at half-staff Wednesday to honor longtime Tampa legislator and community advocate Betty Reed, who died May 20 at 81 years old.

In a memorandum sent to Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and Hillsborough County Commission Chair Kimberly Overman, the Governor said the flags should be flown at half-staff at the Hillsborough County Courthouse, Tampa City Hall and at the state Capitol in Tallahassee.

Former state Rep. Reed became known as a fierce advocate for education, children and mothers during her life.

Reed, herself a mother of five, was a champion for improving Black maternal health and access to quality, affordable education during her time in the House. She served the Tampa Bay area from 2006 until 2014, representing House Districts 59 and 61.

During her time in the House, she served on a variety of committees including the Education Committee, Higher Education Appropriations Committee and the Workforce Policy Committee, among others.

“Reed will be remembered as a dedicated advocate for her neighbors and the citizens of Florida,” the memorandum states.

Reed’s interest in public service was sparked after joining the Parent Teacher Association while her children were in school, leading her to the Hillsborough County Council PTA/PTSA and the Florida State PTA. From there, she was inspired to complete her own high school diploma by attending night and weekend classes, eventually earning an associate’s degree from Hillsborough Community College and bachelor’s degree from National Louis University.

After the news of her passing, local elected officials who knew Reed came out in droves to reflect on her work and the impact she left on the lives of Floridians.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor said Reed “exemplified the best of public service.” She highlighted Reed’s tenure in the House, including passing legislation that prohibits the use of restraints on incarcerated women in labor, delivery and recovery, which passed both the House and Senate with bipartisan support.

Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls posted a picture of her that is displayed on the walls of the House Member’s Lounge, saying, “Hanging on the walls of the House Member’s Lounge is a permanent reminder of Betty Reed and her legacy of service to Floridians. May she Rest In Peace.”

Reed is survived by her husband, James.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected]


  • Denise Lasher

    June 1, 2022 at 11:03 am

    Rep Reed was a wonderful public servant. She always had the citizens’ needs at heart. She will be dearly missed. We need more Betty Reed in elected office today.

  • Frank H. Roder

    June 3, 2022 at 12:50 am

    While Rep. Reed was in office she sponsored an education bill a group of teachers from Pasco County wrote concerning greater oversite of education policy. I was one of those teachers. She assisted us in writing the bill and kept us up to date during the session as the bill was debated. Unfortunately, the bill wasn’t passed but we were very grateful for her support and encouagement. She was a fine legislator and I was very proud to have lived in her district and having her as my state rep.

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