Friends honor beloved Madison bartender killed in hit-and-run while on vacation in Florida

MADISON, Wis. – Friends of a local bartender killed in a hit-and-run crash while vacationing in Florida gathered at the Dive Inn Wednesday night to share stories about the woman and have a drink in her honor.

One week after her death, to remember her legacy, Mary Reed’s coworkers at the Dive Inn closed up shop on Wednesday during her usual shift to give her patrons and friends a chance to celebrate her life together.

Fellow bartender and friend to Reed Samantha Kemnitz said Reed was her favorite other bartender to go see.

“I absolutely adored her,” Kemnitz said. “She was sweet, she was funny, she was charming, charismatic, everything about her was just the loveliest.”

Kemnitz also said she’s finding news of Reed’s death hard to understand. For her, knowing it was Reed’s first vacation in 15 years makes it even more difficult to cope.

“(It’s) kinda like getting hit in the face with a bag of bricks,” she said.

While on vacation in Florida with her sister, Reed was hit and killed by a car walking home from the beach in Fort Myers. The driver did not stop.

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In Madison, her friends are trying to push past the tears and focus on the joy she brought to so many people and the memories they shared.

Matthew Ruhl worked with Reed on and off since 2008, and he said what he would remember most was her unmatched energy.

“She was always like,’ Don’t be late, I work Wednesday. Don’t be late, be here when I am,’” he recalled. “I did. I came for her shift and it was beautiful. We always had a good time.”

Reed was a bartender for more than a decade at a number of bars across Madison; in that time, she came to be known as one of the best.

She is survived by her two daughters, a 20-year-old and a 17-year-old. A GoFundMe has been set up to support the two young women.

There will also be a meat raffle in her honor at the Dive Inn this Saturday at noon.