The pages of the Rev. Fred Miller's Bible tell him that this world groans and suffers. It's broken, and it deals tragedy with the coldness of a fortune wheel.

So he turns to Romans 8:22 to explain why the congregants at Cumberland Valley Church in Dillsburg are angry with the world - not its creator - as they mourn elder Jeffrey Reed.

"We long for the day when there's a new heaven and a new Earth ... so that tragedies like this don't have to happen," he said. "We live in a groaning world, and one day it will be delivered from its groaning. One day the broken-ness of this world, with swimming accidents and all the things that happen on this earth, will be fixed."

Reed, 53, drowned in the Susquehanna River after suffering a medical problem while competing in the Catfish Triathlon in Harrisburg on Sunday, according to the Dauphin County Coroner's Office.

Dauphin County spokeswoman Amy Richards Harineth said the county could not disclose the nature of the episode Reed suffered from a pre-existing medical condition. He was taken to a hospital and later pronounced dead.

His business: Reed, who was co-owner of Quality Greenhouses in Dillsburg, is survived by his wife of 30 years Janet Reed, son Jordan Reed and daughter Mattie Reed, all of Dillsburg, and daughter Dayna Reed of Norristown.

Miller said Jeff Reed was a member of the church since the early '80s, having graduated from Penn State and settled in the Dillsburg area.

He was a church elder for several years, elected by the congregation, and was a quiet leader who showed wisdom and discernment when he spoke, Miller said.

Reed was an introvert who cared about people, the latter trait manifesting in his sensitivity to the 40 Mexican migrant workers he hired to work at the greenhouse, Miller said.

"He wanted to treat them with dignity in his business," Miller said. "He was committed to honoring them and giving them integrity ... never to exploit or demean. He would work out (in the fields) with them, too. His greatest joy was to get his hands dirty."

Reed visited Mexico to meet the families of the workers he hired, Miller said.

At church, Reed's gentle-spirited leadership on the board of elders was influential in determining the nature of the organization, "and his discernment and wisdom are really going to be missed."

Generosity: Reed gave his time and money generously, and was devoted to his family, Miller said.

The church elder knew he had a family history of heart problems, so he entered into a rigorous training routine for his heart, eating healthy and exercising, Miller said.

He hiked on the Appalachian Trail with his son, lifted weights, and swam at a local high school at 5 a.m. about three times per week, Miller said.

"It's one of the sad things about it, that an event pursued for his health ended up killing him," Miller said.

The Catfish Triathlon, which started at Harrisburg's City Island, includes a 0.8-mile swim in the river, a 14.5-mile bike ride around the city and a 3.1-mile run to return to City Island, according to organizer Tricat Sports.

A public memorial service will be held at 6:30 Thursday at the church, 1071 York Road, Dillsburg.

In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to the Miranda K. Zeigler Foundation, "Miranda's Smile," 54 Glenview Dr., Dillsburg, 17019.

- Reach Christina Kauffman at