Les and Estelle Reid: A Problem Solver Gives Back
Dr. Les Reid is an engineer, a businessman, and a physician. "My mother firmly believed that the reason I did all of this was I never could make up my mind about what I wanted to do. I think she was partially right," Les says.
Les graduated from Dartmouth College in 1956, Thayer School of Engineering and Tuck School of Business in 1957, and Dartmouth Medical School (now the Geisel School of Medicine) in 1966. He is the only person in Dartmouth's history to hold degrees from all four institutions.
"Each time I was able to build on what came before," he says. His eclectic interests served him well.
Les, who grew up in New Jersey, first attended Dartmouth because he wanted a small liberal arts school and Dartmouth offered a scholarship, "which was pretty high on my list because my family didn't have much money," he says.
Now, in a position to give back, he and his wife have included a gift to scholarships at the medical school in their estate plans and have established a special fund to assist medical students with emergency expenses.
After earning his undergraduate degree and degrees from the Thayer and Tuck schools, Les spent seven years as an engineer, including at Boeing. But he was interested in becoming a doctor, too, and decided to attend medical school after meeting his wife, Estelle, who had just started medical school in Washington (and who went on to become a plastic surgeon). Once again, Dartmouth was kind enough to take him, he says.
After graduating from Dartmouth Medical School's then two-year program and finishing his MD degree at Johns Hopkins, Les joined the Medical Computer Applications Group at IBM. Later he practiced cardiopulmonary medicine, and eventually served as medical director of Blue Shield Insurance Plan.
Helping Today's Students
Retired since 2001, Les has no trouble identifying the common thread in his varied career. "All of the things that I've done in medicine and engineering involve problem solving," he says. "I like to solve problems. The Thayer School and the Medical School taught me how to do that well."
Les and Estelle are now helping to solve problems for Geisel medical students. In addition to their estate plans, the couple is funding a $50,000 endowment, named the Les and Estelle Reid Student Emergency Fund, which assists medical students with unexpected financial hardships, such as dental needs, car trouble, or traveling to a funeral. More than 90% of Geisel students rely on loans to fund their medical education and more than 55% receive scholarships, so they often don't have the money for such emergencies.
"If a student's budget didn't include dollars for a winter coat, if someone's mother dies and there's no money for an airplane fare, this fund will provide financial help," Les says. "We wanted to do something on a more personal level."