Former Pearland mayor Tom Reid was recalled this week as a tireless visionary who shepherded the city for nearly four decades, overseeing its transition from a farming community of 6,000 residents to the largest municipality in Brazoria County. Reid died June 24 at 97. 

A public viewing for Reid will be held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at First Church, 1850 Broadway St., in Pearland.

On the city’s Facebook page, Pearland leaders asked residents to contribute photographs with Reid that would be used in a slideshow at Friday’s visitation. Dozens of people responded with photos, many of themselves standing with Reid at a variety of civic functions or the former mayor simply meeting with constituents.

Reid served as mayor from 1973 to 1990, and again from 1993 until his retirement in 2020, at age 93. From 1965 to 1997, Reid also worked at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Upon his retirement, the city gave Reid the title Mayor Emeritus. 

Reid had a vision that he knew would outlast his time in office, Pearland Communications Director Joshua Lee said, crediting the former mayor’s relationships with nearly a dozen economic development groups and local utility powerhouses for the continued growth and development the city has experienced. 

Reid’s partnership with the Gulf Coast Water Authority was one of his most impactful initiatives, Lee said. Through that connection, Reid was able to secure water rights for the city from the American Canal, an irrigation canal that connects the Brazos River to League City. In the event of an emergency or boil water notice, the city has an alternative source to go to. 

“For 20 years, we had these water rights in reserve, and we’re tapping into them now,” Lee said. “It’s moves like that (that are) very intentional, but sometimes take 10 to 15 to 20 years to develop. To have that sort of long-term vision is, I think, unique. It’s very rare.” 

Reid also is credited with expanding city departments to keep pace with population growth, developing the city’s parks and trail systems, and shepherding various residential and business developments. 

Bill Eisen, former Pearland city manager, worked with Reid for more than 12 years. During that time, he said he saw Reid’s leadership result in the expansion of a satellite campus of the University of Houston-Clear Lake into Pearland and the creation of two libraries. 

“I spent more than 35 years in Texas local government and I never worked with anyone who had a greater sense of integrity and love for his community than Tom Reid. He had a genuine love for people that you could see instantly when you met him,” Eisen said in an email to the Landing. “I know of few, if any, government officials that had a greater impact on their community. I was honored to call him my friend and, like so many people, I will truly miss him.” 

Brazoria County Commissioner Stacey Adams said Reid had been a mentor to him. One of the things Adams said he admired most was Reid’s focus on making Pearland the best it could be. 

“Even though he held a political office, he wasn’t really a politician. He didn’t involve himself in party politics. He saw everybody as equal,” Adams said. “He was building his city, if you will. He never let any of those sorts of things get in the way, which a lot of people do.” 

Kevin Cole was elected the first new mayor of Pearland in nearly three decades in 2020. 

Lee said one of the first things Cole did as mayor was ask for an old pair of Reid’s shoes. His predecessor thought it was a strange request, but brought in a pair of penny loafers, a widely recognized staple of Reid’s wardrobe. 

Cole was taking the reins of a city that had been led by one man for years and was following someone who had a transformative legacy. To remind himself of that, Cole had the pair of loafers bronzed and mounted on a wood plaque that reads: “Shoes I will not fill.” 

“I visited with him the day he passed, and I told him ‘Don’t worry, we got this, we’ll take care of Pearland,” Cole said. “I hope that helps him rest easy.” 

Reid is survived by son Carl Reid and daughter Trisha Robison. 

Funeral is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at First Church. 

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Briah Lumpkins is a suburban reporter for the Houston Landing. She most recently spent a year in Charleston, South Carolina, working as an investigative reporting fellow at The Post and Courier via Frontline...