Cumberland Times-News Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Longtime Republican earns citations

Heath E. Combs
Times-News Staffwriter



MOUNT SAVAGE — Phyllis E. Reed, an 89-year-old Mount Savage resident, doesn’t have room on her walls for all the citations she recently was given for 68 years of service to the Republican Party.

"To me it’s always been the party of the people," said Reed.

The Allegany County Republican Central Committee honored Reed during its recent annual Lincoln Day Dinner. 

In addition to Maryland House and Senate resolutions in her honor, Reed received a letter from Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, Gov. Robert Ehrlich and President George Bush.

The president’s letter reads, "Your devotion to the Republican ideals and your tireless efforts on behalf of the party are an inspiration to all."

"It was really a nice gesture," said Reed, "I worked hard for him, making telephone calls and passing out materials."

Ellen Bartlett presented Reed with Bartlett’s letter. First Lady Kendel Ehrlich presented the governor’s citation.

"I believe he’ll get two terms," said Reed of the governor.

Reed said she reads the news to keep up with legislative politics and state events.

"I’ve always been thrilled with the legislative process," said Reed.

Reed became involved in politics as a sophomore in high school, when her father asked her to hand out campaign information for a local election door to door. Reed’s father made sure she read and could understand any material she distributed.

"We worked until 10 at night," said Reed. The 2000 elections were the first she did not campaign door to door.

Reed’s husband, the late Lester "Bus" Reed, was a delegate in the Maryland General Assembly for more than 30 years. His wife was a big part of her husband’s campaigning efforts.

One of her first political efforts helped establish schools in Lonaconing, Ellerslie and Mount Savage.

"It’s funny how you get involved with politics when you have a cause," said Reed.

Reed said Thomas R. McKeldin’s campaign was the most vigorous she’s been involved in. She said McKeldin would sometimes climb ladders to give roof workers his card.

"He said ‘I have to get every vote I can,’ " said Reed. McKeldin was governor from 1959 to 1967. Reed said only six Maryland governors have been Republican.

The biggest change she’s noticed in politics is more on government assistance in citizens’ lives. "More people want more from the government and don’t want to rely on themselves," said Reed. "I think it’s a bad thing when you don’t learn self-reliance."

Reed first worked for the Celanese Corp. as an accountant. She also worked for the AFL-CIO as a legislative aide from 1957 to 1996.

"I’m sorry I quit when I was 82," said Reed.

She began working with the Parent Teacher Association in 1936. Reed said she lobbied hard for education bills in the legislature. Reed still works for Maryland’s State Board of Education as Career Connections chairwoman, and is the treasurer of Allegany County Council of PTAs. She also is on the Allegany County Civil Service Commission’s Grievance Committee.

"She’s truly someone who defines dedication, commitment and the spirit of volunteerism, good will and activism," said Carmela Viet, a Baltimore County resident.

Viet said she’d known Reed as the president of the Maryland State PTA in the 1970s. "She will not say no, she doesn’t fold up the tent. She musters courage and energy to do what she’s supposed to do," said Viet. "She’s very well thought of in this community."

"The love of her life was politics," said Bertie Mae Stotler, a friend of Reed’s.

Reed said she has never had trouble finding a job and feels guilty using a calculator to balance her checkbook. She offers some advice to younger generations.

"There’s no such thing as an 8-to-5 job. It doesn’t hurt to arrive a little early," said Reed. "Be on time for work and don’t quit until it’s quitting time. We need to instill a better work ethic."