Reid was born in 1956 in Chicago, where he lived his entire life. He graduated from Holy Name Cathedral High School and took courses at Roosevelt University, including art classes.
He embarked on a career as an alternate DJ spinning tunes at Dugan's Bistro. Then Reid became Crystal's Blinkers first DJ in July 1977, working Monday through Thursday nights. He continued as a DJ for the next four years at Crystal's Blinkers and later Coconuts Dance Club.
In 1981 Reid switched careers and became a realtor, first with American Invsco and until his death at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services.
Outside of his career, Reid had a passion for food and cooking, including watching cooking shows which became his Saturday guilty pleasure, as well as traveling to find the most thrilling roller coasters. Additionally, Reid had an infectious personality that was evident in all of his relationships. He loved giving people advice and making them feel good.
Reid was preceded in death by his father, Earl King Reid, Sr. He is survived by his mother Gloria Malmore; sisters Dianne (Howard) Eley and Alison (Gary) Chatmon; nephews Howard Reid Eley and Glynn Chatmon; niece Stephanie Marie Eley; lots of aunts and cousins; and countless chosen family members and friends.
Reid's family told Windy City Times in an email statement that he "had an impact on people wherever he went, both making them feel comfortable and to laugh. He enjoyed sharing his recipes and helping others enhance their own recipes in order to elevate their cooking experiences. Earl was always willing to go the extra distance to ensure that those around him would have a pleasurable time."
"We met Earl through mutual friends in 1981 and developed a fast friendship," said longtime friends and married couple Ted Hall and Tony DiViggiano in a joint statement. "As suburban Chicago gays, he introduced us to many wonderful people and places. Earl knew everything about everyone, and what to do and where to be. He was the center around which that universe revolved.
"Because of the time our friendship began, we soon also shared in the devastation of watching too many others in our orbit become ill, suffer and pass. We have always been thankful for having Earl hold us up, and that he gave us the opportunity to hold him up too. Then as time passed, we were all able to celebrate many friends that went through that hell, and have come out the other side stronger and sharing that strength with us. Earl's humor never failed to delight—on his first visit to our new house in the mid-eighties, lily-white, blue-collar Berwyn, he stepped out onto the back deck, spun around and at the top of his voice yelled, 'I love the house. I'll take it.'
"Earl loved when we moved to San Francisco, with the prospect of a free vacation he drove our '86 Saab from Chicago through the Rockies to San Francisco, bitching the whole way. 'I had to get out and push that &%$@#@ Saab up the mountains.' But since he had a free place to stay and a free Business Class ticket back to Chicago, he only mentioned the drive once or twice a year for the next twenty years. When we moved back to the Midwest however, he expressed his displeasure of our new hometown of Grand Rapids, referring to it as 'Bland Rapids,' and now in our latest cross-country excursion to Palm Springs, he was only dismayed with the desert heat.
"As often as we spent time with Earl in the early years of our long and often long-distance friendship, these later years left us grabbing a brief day or three when we could be together in person and then phone calls became the most common means of keeping in touch. It is difficult realizing that all those times are now relegated to memories only, but for all of those who knew Earl, those memories will always be fresh and alive as Earl is alive in our hearts."
"We are saddened by the passing of our dear friend of 24 years, Earl Reid," said longtime friends and couple Bill Buckland and Don Aubrey in a joint statement. "Earl was a constant in our life as we got together for cocktails once a week. It is difficult as we now share a cocktail while sitting next to Earl's now empty chair in our living room. We shared home-cooked meals together and enjoyed similar tastes in ethnic restaurants throughout the Chicago area. We will particularly miss Earl's culinary skills in preparing dishes, which he learned from having grown up in Black, south Chicago.
"Earl was a storyteller and we learned a lot from him about Chicago, since we were from New England and south Florida. We shared a circle of friends who for years went out on North Halsted on Friday nights for drinks and then an early dinner. That eventually tapered to going out for breakfast, typically monthly. We love you, Earl. We will miss your sense of humor and cherish the many laughs and memories shared. Our hearts are heavy."
"Earl Reid was such a great friend," said longtime friend Jim Brady. "We had so many good times at Sidetrack and at my summer parties. I remember he always put his keys on my doorknob so he would not forget them. His BBQ ribs were out of this world. I will miss him so much. I love you, Earl."
"Earl was a fellow DJ when I first moved to Chicago in 1981 to DJ at Dugan's Bistro, where Earl spinned occasionally before moving on to Blinker's, on Broadway just south of Belmont, and many other popular Chicago gay bars from that era," said longtime friend Jeff Berry in a Facebook post. "Earl was funny, sassy, knew everything about everyone, loved to dish, but was an incredibly kind and generous, giving (and private) person. He had just come back from a trip in Italy last week with his friends where he had a wonderful time. I am glad he got to go out with a bang. Love you, Earl-La-La, see you someday in that big DJ booth in the sky."
Memorial service details TBA.