(Facebook/Denise Bukowski)

Former bank robber, author Stephen Reid has died

Notorious member of the Stopwatch Gang passed away Tuesday

Stephen Reid, a notorious bank robber turned best-selling author, died Tuesday.

Reid was 68. He was admitted Friday to the Northern Haida Gwaii Hospital in Masset with a lung infection and heart failure.

According to a statement by his wife, the poet Susan Musgrave, an air ambulance was called late Monday night but darkness and bad weather delayed its arrival until Tuesday morning. By that time, she said Reid was in a third-stage heart block.

“Despite the best attempts by Masset medical staff and Vancouver paramedics to save him, he is gone,” Musgrave said.

“The day he was admitted to the hospital, seven killer whales came in to the inlet,” she said. “The Haida First Nations belief is that when a killer whale is seen in the inlet it means someone is going to die.”

“On Friday there were seven.”

Reid spent decades in Canadian and U.S. prisons for his role in the Stopwatch Gang — a trio of quick, precise bank robbers so-called by the FBI for a stopwatch that Reid used during heists. They are believed to have taken part in over 100 bank robberies in the 1970s and 1980s, including the theft of over $700,000 in gold bars from the Ottawa airport in 1974.

Reid began writing while serving a 20-year prison sentence. He sent the manuscript for Jackrabbit Parole, a semi-autobiographical novel, to Musgrave while behind bars.

“She read the manuscript, fell in love with the protagonist and married the author on October 12, 1986, while he was still in prison,” Musgrave wrote on her website.

In 2013, Reid won the City of Victoria’s Butler Book Prize for A Crowbar in the Buddhist Garden, a collection of essays about growing old in prison.

Reid also taught creative writing, counselled other prisoners on drug abuse, and served on boards for the John Howard Society, the Prison Arts Foundation, PEN Canada, Spirit of the People, and the Journal of Prisoners on Prisons.

Reid is survived by his wife Susan Musgrave, his daughters Charlotte Musgrave and Sophie Reid Jenkins, and his granddaughters Beatrice and Lucca Musgrave.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

San Group opens new sawmill in B.C.

It’s the first mill in 15 years to be built on west coast

Drive-in movie coming to Port Alberni

Event limited to 50 vehicles due to COVID-19

City of Port Alberni’s security program open to all residents

Matching grant program offers 50 percent reimbursement for security upgrades

Hundreds of cars participate in second Port Alberni Cruise for Care

Event was a salute to frontline workers at seniors’ care homes

VALLEY SENIORS: A second chance comes with enough memories for two

The Dietrich family makes its mark on Abbeyfield House in Port Alberni

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

An ongoing updated list of Alberni Valley events affected by COVID-19

Has your event been cancelled or postponed? Check here

COVID-19 birthday drive-by celebrations snuffed out in Island community

Bylaw officer visit with threats of a fine mean parade trucks taken off the road

Vancouver Island Regional Libraries to offer ‘takeout’ style services

VIRL will offer the service on a branch-by-branch basis

George Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure: family autopsy

Death sparked a wave of protests across the U.S. and abroad

COVID-19: B.C. commercial landlords can’t evict if they decline rent assistance

Emergency order ‘incentive’ for federal program, Carole James says

B.C. Hockey League prepping for 2020-21

League reviewing different scenarios and start times in compliance with provincial regulations

Duncan’s Queen Margaret’s School pioneers thermal imaging in school reopening

Private school is first in B.C. to use new tech post-COVID-19

Most Read