State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Reeves Remembered as Visionary, Forward-Thinking Leader in Meteorology

on March 26, 2012 4:54 PM

Ken Reeves was barely out of college when he began to help modernize AccuWeather Inc.

Fresh out of Penn State in 1983, he almost immediately landed a leadership role at the forecasting company. At the time, AccuWeather workers still wrote forecasts by hand or on typewriters, colleagues said Monday, less than a day after Reeves died.

He "was a big proponent of using computers and, beyond that, Macintoshes," said Bernie Rayno, an expert senior meteorologist and executive producer at the Ferguson Township-based company. " ... He was a visionary. He changed our operations. He was always looking forward, always improving, always becoming more efficient within our operations."

Reeves, 50, died Sunday after a home accident, police said. He fell from the roof his Lemont house as he took down Christmas lights about 5 p.m., according to a preliminary police report.

He was taken by ambulance to Mount Nittany Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, Centre County Coroner Scott A. Sayers said. The official cause of death is listed as head trauma.

From across the forecasting field, condolences poured Monday into AccuWeather's Science Park Road headquarters, where Reeves was as a vice president, general manager and senior meteorologist.

Shaken co-workers and friends remembered him as a natural leader who cared deeply for employees, built relationships across the profession and contributed to the local community. (AccuWeather's own report is available here.)

"He always had a passion to make things better," said Henry Margusity, an expert senior meteorologist and news manager at AccuWeather. He knew Reeves since they were in kindergarten together, just north of Philadelphia.

"Even when we were in school, he was always the person leading the charges and getting people to follow him to do innovative things," Margusity said. "That's always been the way Ken was."

Reeves and Margusity pursued meteorology at Penn State, both landing at AccuWeather after graduation.

Driven to lead, Reeves soon took charge of certain AccuWeather product areas, such as newspaper services, co-workers said. By the mid-1990s, he led the information-technology department. He later became the manager of forecasting operations before being named to his most recent AccuWeather positions.

"As he began to branch out more, he became more and more almost the face of AccuWeather in meteorological circles," Rayno said. He said Reeves represented the company often in discussions and collaborative efforts with government agencies and other private-sector agencies.

In fact, Rayno said, Reeves was an integral part of building cross-organizational partnerships that make U.S. weather forecasting the best in the world.

Reeves' death "is a tremendous, immeasurable loss not only to AccuWeather, not only to his family, but beyond the walls of State College," Rayno said.

He and Reeves were close friends for 15 years.

Active in local nonprofit circles, Reeves was a steady presence at the ClearWater Conservancy, in a Centre Region Parks and Recreation softball program and at the Mount Nittany Conservancy, among other groups. In fact, he was integral to the creation of the Mount Nittany Conservancy, founded in 1981, conservancy President John Hook said.

He said Reeves carried a "love for the mountain."

And his "vision for its preservation and conservation, and his knowledge about all that surrounds it, has been an inspiration for all of us who have the honor of serving the mountain," Hook said in a written statement. "Our deepest sympathies go out to his wife and all his family in their time of loss."

Reeves and his wife, Raychel Harvey-Jones, were married in October. In addition to her, he is survived by his parents, a brother and a sister.

Plans for visitation and a memorial service are outlined on this page.

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