Bill Reid – known informally as ‘Mr. Surrey’ and unofficial ambassador for Cloverdale and executive director of its chamber of commerce – lost his battle with cancer Tuesday evening at age 78.
Survived by wife Marion, Reid, who was named Surrey’s Good Citizen of the Year in April, had a 50-year involvement with Surrey, Delta and White Rock. His public service included serving as a Social Credit MLA for White Rock-South Surrey, minister of tourism and as a Delta alderman.
Fort Langley-Aldergrove MLA Rich Coleman tweeted that Reid was “a friend, mentor, loyal supporter, sounding board, great dad and husband.”
“His contributions to B.C. were special,” he added. “I miss him.”
Gary Hollick, past-president of the South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce, tweeted “Surrey lost one of its best last night. Rest in peace my good friend… you’ll be missed.”
Premier Christy Clark remembered Reid’s role as minister of tourism during Expo 86, describing him as “a passionate promoter” of the province.
“He fully embraced the opportunity to tell the world what an incredible place British Columbia is,” she said.
Reid was not exempt from political cacophony – most notably when he became the centre of a 1989 media storm, while serving as tourism minister – but in later years he was best known as an exemplary community booster through such initiatives as the BC Transportation Museum and the Cloverdale Antique Mall.
South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale MP Russ Hiebert said Reid was “a pillar of our city.”
“He stood at the very centre of the business, social and political life of our community.”
For some time, Reid had been considered unofficial mayor of Cloverdale, but Surrey Coun. Linda Hepner said he was so much more than that.
“Don’t forget, he was a great presence in South Surrey-White Rock too, and all around the border and cross-border trade,” Hepner said Wednesday.
Having known Reid since the 1980s, Hepner said he never missed any major city event.
“He was Mr. Rodeo, Mr. Cloverdale, he was Mr. Peace Arch Crossing – he was everywhere,” Hepner said. “He had his hand in every corner of this city… we’re going to miss that smile.”
Reid made a practice of sitting through every Surrey council meeting, she said.
And when he was being thanked for one of his many accomplishments, he was quick to pass the credit to someone else.
“He would focus on every single person at the meeting, and say how valuable they were,” Hepner said. “He never took that limelight for himself.”
Cliff Annable, executive director of the South Surrey/White Rock Chamber of Commerce said Reid was “irreplaceable.”
“He was a volunteer extraordinaire. He could always be counted on for anything you wanted, advice or anything. He was always the first one to step up.”
Surrey RCMP Chief Superintendent Bill Fordy described Reid as a “great citizen and great friend of the Surrey RCMP.”
“Bill Reid’s community involvement included being a big part of our community policing programs, particularly in Cloverdale and South Surrey, where he was highly repected and very involved,” he said.
“His wise counsel and always positive and cheerful attitude will be truly missed.”
Surrey-Panorama MLA Marvin Hunt said Reid had been a fast friend since he beat Hunt for the Social Credit nomination in Surrey in 1983.
He said he particularly enjoyed Reid’s time as tourism minister because of Reid’s joy in “promoting stuff.”
“I’ll just miss his friendship…his enthusiasm,” he said.
– with files from Kevin Diakiw