November 11, 2012

Smithfield fondly remembers summer resident, Gov. John Reed, as neighbor, friend

'This love of Maine, this love of community, reflects the things that John himself loved,' pastor says

By Matt Hongoltz-Hetling
Staff Writer

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

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Speaking next to some memorabilia of former Gov. John Reed, Christine Keller fondly recalls him during a celebration of his life at the Smithfield Baptist Church on Sunday. Behind Keller is the Rev. Bert Brewster.

Staff photo by David Leaming

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Gov. John Reed


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

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

Pastor 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," he 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 first 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 he 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.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling -- 861-9287

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