Jane C. Reed, of Cambridge and Vineyard Haven, died Sept. 20. She was 71.

She was a photographer in the Harvard University News office from 1981 to 2001, and for five years served as director of photographic services. She excelled at portraits of faculty members and visiting celebrities. This was not because she had rare technical skills, but because of an honest interest in people and a wish to engage with them positively, an attitude that pervaded throughout her life.

She was afflicted by several chronic diseases over decades. The one that took her life was diabetes, which she had lived with since she was 12, growing up in Middletown, Conn.

She began coming to the Vineyard in the 1960s, when her parents, Dr. and Mrs. Clair B. Crampton, bought the barn and former studio of the late artist Denys Wortman on Hines Point. Dr. Crampton volunteered his medical services during busy summer weeks to assist the late Russell S. Hoxsie, M.D., in his family practice in Vineyard Haven.

Other work outside of Harvard that Jane greatly enjoyed was as director of the Cambridge Bicentennial Corporation, from 1974 to 1977. As manager of a city agency formed to plan and coordinate Cambridge’s bicentennial programs, she staffed an information office; raised money to build Dawes Memorial Park and publish a popular history of the city, Cambridge Reconsidered; and planned and realized celebratory ceremonies, dinners, parades, historical reenactments and fireworks displays.

Later she became New England representative of the prominent pyrotechnic firm Fireworks by Grucci of New York, and helped stage many artful and resounding displays launched from Boston Harbor and the Charles River. On some she collaborated with the late George Plimpton. He was the fireworks commissioner of Manhattan, and she was the appointed fireworks commissioner of the great city of Cambridge. She told friends that when she died she wished her ashes shot 1,200 feet into the air inside a multi-colored 12-inch chrysanthemum bomb.

She is survived by her husband, Christopher D. Reed of Cambridge and Vineyard Haven; her daughter, Jennifer P. Reed, of San Leandro, Calif.; her younger brother and his wife, Michael and Ardith Crampton, of West Hartford, Conn., and Vineyard Haven; her sister-in-law, Susan C. Crampton, of Vineyard Haven and Vero Beach, Fla.; and many nieces and nephews.

No services are planned. To leave a message for the family, please go to the Keefe Funeral Home website: keefefuneralhome.com.

Friends wishing to make financial donations in her name might consider he favorite charities: the MSPCA, 350 South Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02130; or Massachusetts General Hospital, 165 Cambridge Street, Suite 600, Boston, MA 02114.