WILMINGTON — After calling Wilmington home for more than 50 years and serving that city for several years, sitting council member Bob Mead died Friday at age 81.
“It’s a great loss to the community,” said Mead’s friend Don Wells. “He was a true gentleman and a good man.”
Mead, who bought a home on Lincoln Street more than 50 years ago, wrote the News Journal in April to say, “Wilmington is my home. … I have lived in Wilmington for over 50 years and can’t think of a place I’d rather be.”
Wells, Mead’s son David and Loren L. Stuckert, a sitting council member, remembered Mead as a man who had principles, worked hard and who spoke softly and with wisdom.
Mead and Wells became friends through the Masonic Lodge, where both served as officers. From there, they came to know each other through other boards they served on, including Wilmington Council.
Wells remembered Mead would come to his church for special services and musical programs.
“I always thought Bob was the guy who stood up for what is right,” Wells said. “He was an honorable guy … (and) a really good friend.”
Wells fondly remembered that Mead gave him a sign that says “Always stand for what is right, even if you are standing alone.”
Wells still has that sign. It is in his computer room.
“Two years ago, I had a bicycle accident, and I broke my hip,” Wells said. “I was in the hospital for 13 days. Bob came and saw me every day.”
Stuckert called Mead “an extremely good friend” whom he regarded highly and someone who was dedicated to giving back.
“Bob is one of those citizens that were successful business people, their lives were successful and they were just virtuous citizens,” Stuckert said. “They wanted to step up and do things.”
Stuckert said others should reflect on Mead, who he was, the things he said and what he accomplished.
“He’s someone I think should be a model, someone we should talk about and aspire to have people like that,” Stuckert said. “There’s a lot about Bob Mead you don’t have to lose ’cause you can hold him in your mind and heart.”
Stuckert said Mead was service-minded throughout his entire life, adding that Mead served on several boards, service-oriented organizations and Wilmington City Schools’ board.
“It was sort of his nature, to want to serve,” Stuckert said. “To be a good city servant, that came natural to him.”
Stuckert said he talked to Mead often, getting his advice and input.
“He had a lot of wisdom,” Stuckert said. “I always referred to him as the wisest man on council. He was not quick to speak. … When he did weigh in, people really listened.”
Mead was also a capable and funny orator, according to Stuckert.
When he first ran, Stuckert said Mead made several people laugh when he said, “I’m Bob Mead, and I’m running for council, so get used to it.”
At the same time, he could get things done with his words.
Stuckert said the city was deliberating how to get the ball rolling on street repaving projects. He said members of the streets committee were trying to figure out how to fund the project.
Mead held his peace, then “floored” the room when he suggested spending $1 million to repave streets, which he argued needed to be done now rather than years down the road. Council eventually approved spending $500,000.
“He could rock your boat with just a couple words,” Stuckert said.
Mead had also served the city’s schools as a member of the schools’ board for three years, and he served on the Republican Central Committee for four terms.
Mead graduated from Wilmington College with a business degree in 1954, and he followed his education by serving two years in the U.S. Army, including in Verdun, France.
After the army, he got a degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Dayton, and, for 35 years, served as engineering manager for several companies. He also worked as a manufacturing manager and as company president in special product and assembly machines. For 10 years he worked in outdoor power equipment design.
For 15 years, he was owner and operator of Shoppes At The Old Mill, a partner in Mead Properties and he founded several businesses in Wilmington.
Mead was preceded in death by his wife, Jane Ann Mead. His son, David, and daughter, Linda, survive him.
Linda said a celebration of Mead’s life will be held in early to mid-November.
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.