Rolon William Reed, a former Westchester County judge who was mayor of Dobbs Ferry from 1979 to 1984, died Sunday near his Florida home from pneumonia and related complications, according to a family obituary. He was 80.
Reed, who was born in Pittsburgh and graduated from Yale Law School, moved to Dobbs Ferry in 1963, eight years after joining the Manhattan law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. He ran for village trustee in 1974 as a Democrat in what was then a traditionally Republican village. Elected mayor in 1979, his efforts helped to transform Willow Point from a semi-industrial eyesore into a public park.
Reed, who retired as his firm’s partner in 1984, served as mayor until former Gov. Mario Cuomo appointed him to a judgeship that year. He left the bench in 1989 when he and his wife, Diana, moved to the Lake Jem area, outside Mount Dora, Fla.
When he moved to Florida, he once again got involved in local politics, becoming an interim county attorney. He also was public advocate battling overzealous real estate developers, helping local leaders to develop plans that guided growth to cities and kept urban sprawl out of rural areas.
Reed left his last public position to become a “retired country gentleman” at Sweetwater Farm with his dog, cattle, gardens and fishing pond.
Reed is survived by his wife, his three children from his first marriage, Rolon A. Reed, III, Hilary Yeo and Jennifer Simon, and four grandchildren, Jordan Yeo, Samuel Reed, Molly Yeo and Ella Simon, as well as his sister, Marilyn Reed Mellor.
Family members and colleagues described Reed as a charismatic contrarian, who was never afraid to fight for a position others opposed or did not understand.
Photo: Rolon Reed in 1988.