Obituary: Dorothy Jean Benson Reed, 92, Ludington.

January 10, 2019

Dorothy Reed

Obituary: Dorothy Jean Benson Reed, 92, Ludington.

Dorothy Jean Benson Reed, 92, died peacefully Monday at Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital, surrounded by her family and members of her caregiving “family.”

Dottie was born April 7, 1926, in Tallman, Michigan, north of Walhalla, the only child of Alverado Todd (A.T.) Benson and Martha Delite Shoup Benson.

Dottie was married to her soulmate Milan Spencer (Bud) Reed for 70 years.  Their love story began at a dance before Bud left to serve in World War II.  They were united in marriage on Jan. 30, 1946, and were as inseparable as a pair of swans ever after.  Since Bud left this earth on March 8, 2016, Dottie looked forward to being reunited with him in heaven.

A dynamic businesswoman decades ahead of the times, Dottie owned and operated Ludington Beverage Company with Bud for 45 years before retiring from the business in 1994. They worked tirelessly to build the business into one of the top-performing Anheuser-Busch distributorships in the nation by not just saying but living by the Anheuser-Busch slogan: “Making Friends Is Our Business.”

As vice president of Ludington Beverage, Dottie devoted herself to overseeing finances and skillfully managed much of the internal operations of the business. Dottie and Bud made every major business decision together, always valuing each other’s input. Self-taught, Dottie could “crunch the numbers” with the best of accountants and professional investment counselors.

Dottie and Bud worked hard to succeed but they also understood the importance of giving back to their community. Together these lovebird business partners with giving hearts were honored as Business Leaders of the Year by the Ludington Area Chamber of Commerce. Together they were honored as grand marshals of both the Scottville Harvest Festival and Ludington Area Jaycees Freedom Festival.

Dorothy and Bud Reed

Together they were among the investors who made the Longfellow Towers senior housing facility a reality. Together, they were among the investors who brought cable television to Ludington and built the Courts of Rath athletic club.

 In recent years, Dottie enjoyed keeping track of the growth in community giving to the Community Foundation for Mason County and seeing all ways the Foundation has been able to help individuals and improve the community.  She and Bud were among the original founders in 1986 because they could envision its potential.

Dottie Reed could be described as an impeccably dressed, classy lady of kindness and grace and, in the same breath, fierce. She never compromised her high standards and high expectations for herself, family members, friends and acquaintances. While setting the bar high, she had a gift for helping people find their gifts and achieve the goals of their choice.  

Dorothy and Bud Reed

Outside of work, Dottie was happiest being with Bud. Among their favorite pursuits were spending time with family, playing tennis, boating, hunting, fishing, car rides, lunch at Scotty’s, attending kids’ and grandkids’ sporting events and traveling with their beloved chow Toshi. They fell in love with Naples, Florida, during a family Christmas vacation in 1962 and eventually spent winters there.

After Bud’s passing, Dottie occupied a lot of her time overseeing the care of her lovely gardens and home near Ludington State Park, keeping her mind razor-sharp working crossword puzzles and keeping an extremely keen eye on the stock market. She also loved watching the birds and deer outside her kitchen window and the koi fish in the pond by her deck. Visiting around the kitchen table with family, friends and her dedicated team of caregivers brought her much joy.

Dottie was grateful to have developed a great friendship and bond with FanJuanita (Janie) Rios, whom she loved, respected and admired and was proud to call “family” for her caregiving expertise and especially her loving devotion to both Dottie and Bud for six years.

A member of Emanuel Lutheran Church for nearly 75 years, Dottie enjoyed services by television at home and communion visits from Anna Anderson and Pastor Domingo (Mick) Shriver when she was no longer able to attend services.  

She is survived by sons Budde (Sheryl) and Todd (Debbie) Reed; and grandchildren Brett Binkley, Sara (Jeff) Tow, Ryan Reed, Tad (Misty) Reed, Brad Reed, and Willie (Stephanie) Reed. Also great-grandchildren Spencer, Samantha, Carter, Jake, Rachel, Julia, Ty, Austin, Ethan, Tucker and Tinley. Also best friend Joyce Harmon.

Dottie was preceded in death by her parents, by her father-in-law Leo (Peck) Reed, and mother-in-law Vera Reed.

Because Dottie and Bud were inseparable, they chose to wait until both of them had passed on to hold one joint memorial service and celebration of life. The event is being planned for this summer.

Cremation has taken place and their ashes will be buried together at Lakeview Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to Community Foundation for Mason County, P.O. Box 10, Ludington; or to Emanuel Lutheran Church, 501 E. Danaher St., Ludington.

Please share your fond memories and photos of Dottie at

Arrangements have been entrusted to Oak Grove Funeral Home of Ludington.


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