November 12, 2012

Former Gov. John Reed remembered for love of family, friends, neighbors

Speakers at a memorial service recall Reed as down-to-earth despite his political achievements.


SMITHFIELD - A crowd of 50 told stories and shared photographs Sunday at the Smithfield Baptist Church during a service in memory of former Gov. John Reed, who died of pneumonia Oct. 31.

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Standing next to a board of photos of former Gov. John Reed, Christine Keller, a former neighbor, said, “He always took the time to ask those personal questions that made my heart melt.” The service for Reed was held at Smithfield Baptist Church on Sunday. At rear is the Rev. Bert Brewster.

David Leaming/Morning Sentinel

Reed summered at his family's camp on North Pond for his entire life and developed strong relationships with many local residents.

Sunday's service celebrated Reed not for his significant public policy achievements, but for the love and respect he showed family, friends and neighbors throughout his life.

The Rev. Bert Brewster said Reed would have enjoyed the atmosphere in the room, marked by informality, kindness and earnest faith.

"This love of Maine, this love of community, reflects the things that John himself loved," Brewster said. "He has been here for 90 years. It has been an amazing part of our history that he has been here among us."

A posterboard display was covered with photographs of Reed, some of which dated back to 1960.

Reed's friend Jodie Mosher-Towle said she met Reed when he agreed to speak to her class of second-grade students.

She was one of many to note that he was down-to-earth, despite his political achievements.

"His presence was such a gift to us, that a man of his stature would take time out of his very busy social life," she said.

Reed's former neighbor Christine Keller said Reed remembered the smallest details of a person's life, even if he saw the person only once a year.

"He always took the time to ask those personal questions that made my heart melt," she said.

In his closing remarks, Brewster said Reed loved "horses and races and country music and fairs and so much in this world."

He also spoke of Reed's "ability to lead and inspire, his ability to bring people together to do good for all."

Reed was governor of Maine from 1959 to 1966, after which he served as chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board under presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon, and as the U.S. ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives under presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan.

A service also was held in Washington, D.C., and state and national flags in Maine were flown at half-staff Nov. 7 in Reed's honor. He will be buried in Riverside Cemetery in Fort Fairfield, the town where he was born.

Morning Sentinel Staff Writer Matt Hongoltz-Hetling can be contacted at 861-9287 or at:


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