City of Pearland staff touted Mayor Tom Reid as one “built to last” at the celebration of his 90th birthday in late September. But if one were to ask Reid, he is more likely to say he is built to serve.
“Go forth and serve,” he said. “That’s something that’s sort of bred into me.”
Reid (right) presents a proclamation at a City Council meeting circa 1980.[/caption]
Reid—who was born in Houston—said he learned the value of serving others while growing up in the small Central Texas town of Belton. Through Boy Scouts, the Navy and decades as a city official, Reid said he has always led a life of service.
A proud Presbyterian, Reid said his principles were passed on to him by his parents, church members, Scout masters and community members.
“Back in those days, you were taught that reaching out and serving others was a plus,” he said. “You don’t reach out and take from others. I think that’s something we all need to learn as we grow older.”
After graduating with a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Texas, Reid began working for Rockwell International at the Johnson Space Center. From 1965-97, Reid worked on projects, such as the Space Shuttle orbiter.
Soon after moving to Pearland in 1965, Reid got involved with the city—which had a population of about 4,000 at the time. He served on various city committees and also helped develop Pearland’s first charter.
Reid (right) poses with community members at an event circa 1980.[/caption]
In 1973, Reid was elected to the City Council. He joined three other JSC employees on the council, and together the new members brought enthusiasm and innovation to Pearland, Reid said.
Reid was first elected mayor in 1978 and served until 1990. He returned for a second stint in 1995 and has held the position since.
“I was able to choose a path that I wanted to be a part of,” Reid said. “I’m part of the space business when I go to work, and I’m part of developing a community and city in Pearland when I come home. I liked that. It made me feel whole.”
Pearland now boasts a population of more than 112,000. While the city has grown exponentially with Reid at the helm, he said he owes credit for Pearland’s development to those who set a good foundation.
“If you don’t have a city where people want to come live and work, they’re going to go find one,” he said. “We don’t find many people [who] come down here looking around who don’t say, ‘I’ve decided I want to be here.’”
Even so, Reid is ready to tackle additional issues Pearland faces as it continues to grow.
“People around the state tell me, ‘I’m impressed with what you’re doing,’” he said. “I keep telling them that we’re still under construction. We’re just getting started.”