FORT FAIRFIELD — John H. Reed, who served as Maine governor from 1959 to 1966 and later was appointed to a U.S. ambassadorship, has died. Reed, who was 91, died Wednesday in a Washington, D.C., hospital.
The Fort Fairfield native grew up in a potato farming family and served in the Navy during World War II. Reed served in the Maine Legislature from 1955 to 1959, the first two terms in the House and final one in the Senate.
While he was state Senate president, Reed became governor in September 1959 upon the death of Clinton Clauson. The following year, Reed defeated Democrat Frank Coffin to serve out Clauson's term. He won Maine's first four-year term as governor in 1962, defeating Democrat Maynard Dolloff.
While governor, the Republican was instrumental in starting educational television in Maine and oversaw creation of a network of University of Maine colleges, now known as the University of Maine System. After his service in the Blaine House, he was appointed in 1967 to the National Transportation Safety Board and was U.S. ambassador to Sri Lanka in 1976-77.
Maine's current governor, Paul LePage, said Friday the state has lost a great man and offered his condolences to Reed's family.
"Having the opportunity to have met him, I know he was a kind man, dedicated Navy veteran, and passionate about public service. It is a sad day for Maine as we have lost a man who contributed so much to our great state," LePage said in a statement.
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, who like Reed came from northern Maine's Aroostook County, said that no matter where Reed went, "he never forgot his County roots."
"In an interview a few years ago, Governor Reed was asked by a reporter what he'd like to be remembered for," Collins said in a statement. "He said that he wanted to be remembered for doing what was right and that he always sought what was best for the people of Maine. For this, the people of Maine will forever be grateful."
Reed's wife, Cora Davison Reed, died in 2004.
A funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday at Christ United Methodist Church in Washington, according to the McGuire Funeral Home in Washington, D.C. Reed will be buried in Fort Fairfield, the Giberson-Dorsey Funeral Home in Fort Fairfield said Friday.