A Chamber of Commerce breakfast Friday to hear Mayor Stephen Cassidy's state of the city address took on a somber note when members learned of the passing this morning of businessman and civic activist Dale Reed.
He was 81.
"This morning when he hadn't shown up we were quite surprised," said Chamber CEO Dave Johnson, adding that word of Reed's passing came from the police to the Mayor during the breakfast.
Reed death was unexpected as he had helped organize a Wednesday evening for City Manager Chris Zapata that was hosted by new F.H. Dailey Chevrolet owner Steve Song.
"Dale was there with his wife Donna, doing what he loved, helping introduce people and working for San Leandro," Johnson said.
A lifetime of service.
Charlie Gilcrest, president of the Halcyon-Foothill Homeowners Association, called Reed "Mr. San Leandro" for his lifelong involvement in business, including the , and for his civic involvement that continued to the present with his service on the city's planning commission.
written last year listed some of his civic and governmental positions, including the San Leandro Scholarship Fund, Boy Scouts of America, the Planning Commission, and the
The profile was written at a time when Reed was receiving the chamber's lifetime achievement award for what was then nearly 50 years of membership.
Reed and his family have lived in San Leandro since the early 1960s, and he had resided in a ranch-style house in the Bay-O-Vista neighborhood.
From Farming to Highways
Reed was born and raised on a 6-acre farm in the small town of Veedersburg, Indiana. It was a subsistence existence and he milked cows every morning, he said, crediting his upbringing with his later success.
He attended Purdue University to study Agriculture and Biological Engineering then worked for John Deere in Waterloo, Iowa, where he met his future wife, Donna, at a local dance.
Reed fell in love with California during his ROTC service at Beale Air Force Base in Marysville, and made up his mind to return to the state.
But it wasn't a straight shot. After completing his military service, Reed first went back to Peoria to work for LeTourneau-Westinghouse Corporation, which produced industrial earth moving equipment.
He moved around some but eventually settled in San Leandro. By then he and Donna had three children, Kathy, Richard and Anne.
Reed joined the local Chamber after his move and, after some twists and turns, landed a new job managing a distributor for Kenworth trucks in San Leandro.
Reed and his friend Lou Buran purchased the dealership and later diversified by buying Acme Scales, an industrial scale company.
Their company, Buran and Reed, was incorporated until 2007, when Reed sold his share in order to retire and “smell the roses,” as told Patch in his profile.
Reed was a member of The Sentinels a political action committee founded in 1972 to make campaign contributions to business-friendly local politicians.
The Sentinels were considered the old guard by newer San Leandro political activistis. In 2007, school board member and blogger Mike Katz-Lacabe wrote that Reed and Orval 'OB' Badger, both Sentinels, were consided as replacements when Gordon Galvan, another Sentinel, resigned his city council seat in 2001.
The council seat went to Badger who re-appointed Reed to the planning commission, where he may the longest-running member in city history, according to Gilcrest.
Former Mayor Tony Santos said he had known Reed for almost 30 years and admired his association with another former mayor, Jack Maltester, a founder of The Sentinels.
"Dale loved the City and always felt he was its conservative leader," Santos said. "He did a lot for the City as a member of the Planning Commission and helped push through many important projects . . . including the Kaiser Hospital project. He will be missed."
(This story includes biographical details from a profile that offers . It will be updated if further information becomes available.)
(To get San Leandro Patch delivered by email click here.)