Exeter mayor remembered
Reed served 13 years as mayor, died on Nov. 22
A lifelong resident of Barry County, Exeter Mayor James “Rusty” Reed died on Nov. 22 and is being remembered for his dedication to the city and his humorous nature.
Myrna Eisenbraun, Exeter city clerk, said she worked with Reed through his six terms as mayor, and it has been difficult since his passing.
“I could write a book about Rusty,” she said. “He loved his family and he was very proud of all of them. It’s been different with him gone, not so much with daily operations, but I was used to seeing something and my first thought was to call the mayor to see what he thinks. It’s been hard.”
Reed, son of Arley and Cora (Hilburn) Reed, was born on Oct. 17, 1935, in Cassville. On Feb. 16, 1956, he was united in marriage to Susie Ellen Wills, who preceded him in death on July 24, 2015. Rusty was a lifelong resident of Barry County where he was very active in many roles. In addition to being the mayor of Exeter, he served as president for the Exeter Lions Club. He was an avid fisherman and never missed a chance to attended the opening day for trout season at Roaring River State Park. He enjoyed baseball, softball, football and tractor pulls. He also loved attending the local dirt tracks during the summer months and spending time with family and friends.
Eisenbraun said he was responsible for many infrastructure advancements in Exeter, including the new water system.
“He also always made sure all the city property was mowed and the town looked good,” she said. “He was very humorous. He could be serious, but he liked to make people laugh and keep people happy.
“He treated city employees well and had a heart of gold. He sure kept things interesting.”
Reed had been fighting a cancer diagnosis, but Eisenbraun said he did not make much of it.
“We’d ask how he was doing and every time, he would just say, ‘I feel good,’ and he kept that up until the end,” Eisenbraun said.
With Reed’s sixth term as mayor expiring in April, Eisenbraun said the city will wait until the municipal elections to fill the role. In the meantime, Mayor Pro-Tem Rhonda Scott will handle mayoral duties.