Stuart M. Reed, 86, who served nearly a decade as president and chief operating officer of the Conrail freight line, died Thursday, Jan. 26, of Alzheimer's disease at the Meadows facility at Shannondell, a retirement community in Audubon, Montgomery County.

Mr. Reed was elected in 1979 to the twin offices of what was formally known as the Consolidated Rail Corp., the government-chartered corporation with headquarters in Philadelphia that operated freight railroads in the East and Midwest. A 1979 news story stated that he was leaving his job as group vice president-operations at American Motors Corp.

He resigned as president and chief operating officer in 1988.

Born in Howell, Mich., Mr. Reed served in the Army Signal Corps from 1944 to 1946, having arrived in Europe on the day that victory was declared there.

He then earned a bachelor's degree in engineering in 1949 and a master's in business administration in 1950, both at the University of Michigan.

A son, Robert, said that at Conrail Mr. Reed "helped return the company to profitability, allowing for the public sale of stock and the end of governmental control."

Besides his son, Mr. Reed is survived by his wife, Joann; sons Paul and Thomas; a daughter, Barbara; six grandchildren; and a great-grandson.

A memorial service is planned for 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, at Wayne Presbyterian Church, 125 E. Lancaster Ave.

Contact staff writer Walter F. Naedele at 215-854-5607 or