By Joanna Nickerson
Town Manager Rick Reed’s recent announcement of plans to retire during the upcoming summer followed thirty years of successful, dedicated work on behalf of Bedford. Throughout this time his vigilant attention to finance, legal matters, employment, state statutes and national law empowered our elected and appointed officials to think through the best course of actions to take for the Town.
Annually, honors and awards for achievements in multiple areas received for the Town testify to his administrative expertise. Within Town, and also beyond, Rick is widely respected by colleagues nationwide for his active leadership in the International City Managers Association and the Massachusetts Municipal Association.
It was my privilege to work as Rick’s assistant for twenty years. First hand I saw his extended, long hours of work days and nights and many wise, sometimes difficult decisions he needed to make. When Rick arrived in 1988, our office equipment included telephones with curly cords and raised square buttons; an answering machine with two 8” wheels of recording tape; two Selectric typewriters, one Mac SE; and a copy machine shared by everyone in the building (with a sign -up sheet to record the number of copies being made). Passing years saw changes: fax, cell phones, voicemail, email, and the web! Those innovations were in technology; however Rick’s management remained low-key, steady and unflappable.
Within our office staff, and inter-departmentally, teamwork was key. Rick encouraged employees to stretch and strengthen skills, to try something new – a broadened responsibility or completing of a cumbersome, federally-mandated report, perhaps a new leadership position. With regard to the law, Rick had an encyclopedic memory of local, state and national statutes any of which could easily affect the town and its officers. Most importantly, I remember the many instances of respect he gave to everyone–whether to a random drop-in visitor on a busy day, or to a Boy Scout troop wanting to learn about government, and especially to the staff and employees within our government—whatever their role or situation.
Over these many years, Bedford has prospered continually, benefitting from the skilled and wise work of Rick’s management. Retirement is well-deserved, but he will surely be missed.
Editor’s Note: Author Joanna Nickerson came to work for the Town as an Administrative Assistant in what was then known as the Town Administrator’s office when Rick Reed arrived in 1988; she retired in 2009 as Bedford’s Assistant Town Manager.