Tom Reid looks back on time at the city as he retires

Tom Reid
Tom Reid served as mayor of Pearland for 39 years. (Haley Morrison)

Tom Reid served as mayor of Pearland for 39 years. (Haley Morrison)

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Tom Reid worked at the Johnson Space Center. He was elected to mayor nearly a decade after moving to Pearland. (Courtesy Tom Reid)
Tom Reid’s objective has always been to look to the future, whether he was planning on getting men to the moon or planning the city of Pearland, he said. Now, Reid’s future holds stepping down from his mayoral position—a position he held for nearly four decades—and stepping into the honorary position of mayor emeritus.

Reid moved to Pearland in 1965 to work for the Johnson Space Center after serving in the Navy. As soon as he moved to Pearland, his wife suggested he become involved with the community. This involved becoming a troop leader for the Boy Scouts, becoming active at the local Presbyterian church and eventually becoming a City Council member in 1973.

“It fit together nicely. I went to the space center during the days; this took up my nights and weekends,” he said.

Reid’s work at the space center began as NASA worked to try to put a man on the moon. Reid’s primary job was supervising different projects, including working on communication with local news about the progress that was happening at the station and working on building the equipment that would be a part of Gemini 3. Reid also managed staff on projects related to the Apollo, Apollo-Soyuz, Skylab, the Space Shuttle Program and the Space Station.

Reid said working at the Space Station helped him become a better council member and eventually mayor, a position he was first elected to in 1978.

“I thought, ‘We were building something for the moon, why not build something in Pearland? And that has always been my objective,’’ Reid said.

He stepped down from the position of mayor in 1990 as his work moved him back and forth to Cape Canaveral, but he was recruited to run for mayor again in 1993. He has been re-elected to serve as Pearland mayor ever since.

When Reid moved to Pearland, it was not the suburban town it is today. At the time, Pearland had only 3,000 residents. Nearby Friendswood had 5,000, and Alvin had 15,000. Now, Pearland’s population has far surpassed both cities.

Reid said he would drive through Friendswood and Nassau Bay on the way to work at the space center, see the big houses and the streets, and wonder why Pearland could not have the same features. He said he worked to make Pearland a suburb through city planning.

“Working on a city, you have to have a goal. My goal is we should be one of the local cosmopolitans in the Gulf Coast area,” he said.

Part of helping the city grow included adding roadways and waterways and zoning the city, Reid said.

“We used to plan where things were going to go; now we sit down and see where things are zoned to—that’s progress,” Reid said.
By Haley Morrison
Haley Morrison came to Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 after graduating from Baylor University. She was promoted to editor in February 2019. Haley primarily covers city government.


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