(1921-2012) the son of a prominent Fort Fairfield potato grower, was born in that town on January 5, 1921. He attended local schools and graduated from the University of Maine in 1942.
Upon graduation, John Hathaway Reed entered the U.S. Navy and served until 1946. Following his discharge from the service, Reed joined his father’s potato business and dabbled in harness racing.
In 1953 he held a seat on the Maine Water Improvement Commission but resigned a year later to run for the Maine House of Representatives. Serving a single term in the House from 1955 to 1957, he ran for the Maine Senate in 1957 and upon reelection in 1959 was chosen Senate President.
On September 20, 1959, Republican Reed, as President of the Senate, became Maine’s Governor upon the death of Democratic Clinton Clauson. In 1960 he defeated Democrat Frank Coffin to serve out the remainder of Clauson’s term. He won Maine’s first four-year term as Governor with a narrow victory over Democrat Maynard Dolloff in 1962.
In November 1966, Reed lost the Governorship to Democratic Secretary of State, Kenneth Curtis, and in 1967 was appointed by Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson to the newly established National Transportation Safety Board, presumably as his reward for staunch support of Johnson’s Vietnam policy. He later served as chair of the Board.
In 1976 President Gerald Ford appointed him ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldive Islands. He was relieved of his post by the Carter administration. After several years working in the private sector in Washington, he was asked to return to Sri Lanka and the Maldives as ambassador by President Ronald Reagan in 1981. Governor Reed served as ambassador for a total of 6 years.
After retirement from government, he worked as a consultant to the State Department and the transportation industry in Washington, D.C., where he continued to make his home.
John Reed died on October 31, 2012.
Sources: Maine State Senate; University of Maine Alumni Association; Bangor Daily News
Hunt, H. Draper. “Governor John H. Reed,” The Blaine House, Home of Maine Governors. Augusta: Friends of the Blaine House, 1994, pp.143-157.
*Cited in Friends of the Blaine House at http://blainehouse.org/governors(accessed April 25, 2011) (accessed April 25, 2011)