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PUBLISHER'S VOICE: A tribute to Robert Reid; his tenure deserves praise

Posted 1/21/14

It was an evening set aside to express admiration and thanks. A respectful crowd offered tribute to former Middletown Mayor Bob Reid on Thursday, Jan. 16 at the Rescue Hose Company’s Social Club.

It was a gathering of family, friends and …

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PUBLISHER'S VOICE: A tribute to Robert Reid; his tenure deserves praise

Posted

It was an evening set aside to express admiration and thanks. A respectful crowd offered tribute to former Middletown Mayor Bob Reid on Thursday, Jan. 16 at the Rescue Hose Company’s Social Club.

It was a gathering of family, friends and colleagues whose only agenda for the festivity was to acknowledge Reid’s four decades of service throughout central Pennsylvania in general and specifically in the Borough of Middletown. 

While the night featured the customary presentation of official citations – a proclamation from the Dauphin County Commissioners declaring Jan. 16 as Robert G. Reid Day in Dauphin County; a citation of service from state Sen. Mike Folmer; and a state flag from state Rep. John Payne – the evening offered the opportunity to put politics aside and express gratitude to a respected community leader.

For those in attendance, it was a meaningful public acknowledgement of the many chapters of Bob’s life: distinguished college graduate and athlete, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, teacher, court administrator, borough councilman – and mayor, twice.

The array of those attending the event was revealing, notables from our community, including Payne, several former and three current council members, new Middletown Mayor Jim Curry, Royalton Mayor Judy Oxenford, many local business owners and both retired and serving Middletown police officers and borough employees. Those are but a few who took the time to thank Bob.

His long tenure in public service was occasionally boisterous, yet came to an end with quiet dignity and pride. His career was shaped by world-influenced events, most notably the accident of Three Mile Island in 1979. His was a lifetime of public service, honed by meeting local challenges likei the flood of 1972 as well as the desperate need for recreation facilities for the town’s residents, for community development of blighted neighborhoods, for dignity and respect for our community’s senior citizens and for public safety and emergency preparedness.

Surrounded by an array of well-wishers that night, Bob was very quiet, reflective. He and I spoke of the presence of the new “guard” of councillors and his replacement, Curry. “He’ll do alright,” Bob said with confidence.

While Bob happily acknowledged the torch of community service has been passed to others and agreed it’s the next generation’s turn to lead, he also said, “I’m not disappearing. I’ll still be here.”

Could we yet see an addendum to the Reid Legacy?

I’ll add my praise and admiration for a gentleman I’ve known for almost 40 years. Bob and I didn't always see things eye-to-eye. Most notably, we butted heads over closing the communications department (he opposed it, I was initially in favor, although he eventually won me over) and the Press And Journal’s Sound Off column (he detests it). But Bob always treated people with respect, even when disagreements arose and tempers flared. That respect was given to constituents, national and local news media and political opponents alike.

I wish him well in his retirement and thank him for his many contributions to our town. Cheers, Bob!