Reed, Frank Metcalf

1912-2012 | Businessman, Banker, and Civic Leader


Frank M. Reed was one of Anchorage’s best-known residents. He arrived in Alaska in tent city on Ship Creek as a toddler in 1915. Over the course of his life, he worked as an electrical contractor, property developer and manager, bank vice president, and branch manager of the Alaska Small Business Administration in Anchorage. He was also active in public service, including chairmanship of the original City of Anchorage Charter Commission in 1958 and the Anchorage Charter Commission in 1975 when the City of Anchorage and the Greater Anchorage Area Borough were combined to form the Municipality of Anchorage.

Frank Metcalf Reed was born in Seattle, Washington on December 22, 1912, to Frank Ivan Reed (1877-1944) and Pauline Reed (1883-1934). He came to Anchorage with his family, arriving from Seattle in April 1916, when his parents returned to the territory.  The family initially lived in a one-room log cabin.[1] 

Reed Family

The Reed family first arrived in Alaska in 1900, when Frank Reed’s father, Frank Ivan Reed, with his brother, Charles, decided to go to the territory after hearing news of the Nome gold rush. They sailed aboard the S.S. Zelandia, arriving on June 14, 1900.[2] While on the ship traveling to Nome, he struck up a friendship with Pauline Hovey, who had sailed from San Francisco with her younger sisters, Ninta and Sybil, and mother Sarah Metcalf (Hovey) Boynton. His first years in Nome were spent working for the Solomon Dredging Company. Four years later, Frank and Pauline were married in Seattle on November 15, 1904.[3] 

After a trip east, Frank Ivan Reed and Pauline Reed lived in Nome from 1905 to 1912, when Pauline took her eldest son, Paul, and moved to Seattle while her husband worked in the Talkeetna area to establish a gold-dredging operation on Cache Creek. Frank Ivan sold out his interest in the Talkeetna dredge to one of his partners, and then moved to Anchorage, arriving on July 3, 1915.[4] He invested in a lumber company that was selling materials to those building the Anchorage Hotel and 3rd and E Street. When the hotel was completed, the businessmen could not pay for the lumber. He took over ownership of the hotel to satisfy the lumber yard debt. The Reed family moved into the Anchorage Hotel, with Pauline as co-proprietor and manager, with her two sons, Paul and Frank M., operated the hotel from 1917 to 1934. Hotel management was left to Pauline while Frank Ivan pursued another lifelong concern, the Eklutna power plant. From 1922 to 1928, he spent a significant amount of time getting the Eklutna power project off the ground. He started the Anchorage Power and Light Company (AP & L) and, as its president, built the power plant at Eklutna to tap hydroelectric power for Anchorage for over twenty-five years.[5]

Early Years

There were many jobs at which young Frank Metcalf Reed and his older brother, Paul, worked during this time. He recalled years later: “We played bellhop, desk clerk, maid, laundryman, coal shoveler, whatever. It was our living. There were months when income was substantially less than the outgo.  It was not easy.”[6] Frank Metcalf also sold newspapers, remembering that he sold the Anchorage Daily Times from the hotel lobby and as a route boy, receiving a half cent for papers delivered downtown and three quarters of a cent for those delivered in residential areas, including in the red light district (extending from B to Barrow Streets along Ninth Avenue). As a seven-year old, he was one of the first-place winners for the best seventy-five word essay, on “The Value of Steady Saving,” in the 1923 Bank of Alaska essay contest. He won a $5.00 savings deposit.[7]

Frank Metcalf Reed graduated Anchorage High School, Class of 1931.[8] He attended the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines (1931-1932), and obtained a B.A. in Economics and Business from the University of Washington in 1937. While at college he met Maxine McGary, and they were married on June 11, 1937, in Seattle.[9] Frank Metcalf Reed and Pauline Reed had two children: Pauline and Frank M., Jr.

Maxine McGary was born in Spokane, Washington, on November 20, 1911, to James Dellinger McGary and Elizabeth de Jarnette McGary.[10] Maxine graduated from Ilwargo High School, Ilwargo, Washington, located at the mouth of the Columbia River. She then moved to Seattle to attend Wilson’s Modern Business College while working in the distribution department of the Seattle Times. She transferred to the University of Washington, where she worked over a six-year period as secretary in the Education and Home Economics departments while carrying an almost full-time schedule of classes, until graduating in 1937 with a Bachelor of Science degree (summa cum laude).[11]

In 1937, Frank Metcalf Reed and Maxine Reed returned to Anchorage and moved to Eklutna, where he was stationed as an operator at the Eklutna power plant for three years. He served as vice president of Anchorage Power and Light Company from 1936-1942. He was transferred to the power plant in Anchorage, but shortly afterwards, was approached to apply for a commission in the U.S. Navy. In March 1942, he was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve and went on active duty in May 1942 at Fort Richardson as Liaison Officer, spending four years in military service, graduating as a Lieutenant (senior grade) until being honorably discharged in February 1945.[12]

As noted by Charles Wohlforth, in From the Shores of Ship Creek: Stories of Anchorage’s First 100 Years (2014), his decision to serve “affected his future and perhaps the future of Anchorage, as well as the relationship with his father.”[13] His father, Frank Ivan Reed, in failing health, pushed ahead to sell the Anchorage Light and Power Company to the City of Anchorage in 1942-1944, taking away his son’s opportunity to own the power company during the city’s coming decades of rapid post-war growth and expansion. Wohlforth provided this comment:

“If not for the circumstances that led his father to sell the power plant, Frank [Metcalf Reed] believed Anchorage could have developed differently. The city’s electric company, now called Municipal Light and Power, kept its operations within the city. Small, private power companies sprouted up to serve areas beyond city limits. They ultimately became part of Chugach Electric Association, a much bigger utility than the city’s operation. Frank thought that if he had owned the electric utility, he would have kept service for all of Anchorage unified within the single company.”[14]

Business Career

Frank Metcalf Reed used money that he inherited from his father to make investments in several business ventures. He joined Percy Bergt in an electrical contracting firm, the Alaska Electric and Equipment Company, from 1946 to 1950, serving as president. He participated in the construction, ownership, and management of the Turnagain Arms Apartments on 3rd Avenue (across from the present Hilton Anchorage Hotel) and as a partner, also served as secretary-treasurer and manager from 1950 to 1956.[15]

Reed worked as a banker for twenty-eight years and held several management positions. In 1956, he was manager of General Credit Corporation. He served as branch manager of the Alaska Small Business Administration from 1958 to 1960. A banker for twenty-eight years, he also founded the Matanuska Valley Bank, which became the Alaska Bank of Commerce (where he served as senior vice president) and later First Interstate Bank of Alaska. He also served as president of the Alaska Bankers Association and as a director of the American Bankers Association.[16] He retired in 1987, at age seventy-five, after an economic recession hit Alaska and the local economy crashed as consumers and industry conserved energy and moved toward lower priced fuels. Numerous banks, including the First Interstate Bank of Alaska, closed.

Public and Community Service

Frank Metcalf Reed was active in civic affairs and served on a number of boards, councils, and commissions. He was widely recognized for his abilities as a moderator and a peacemaker in bringing opposing factions together, reconciling differences, searching for common ground, and producing a consensus. On October 8, 1956, he was elected to a one-year term the Anchorage City Council, and that same year, became chairman of the Alaska Territorial Police Commission.[17] 

In 1959, Reed was appointed to the Anchorage School Board and then elected to a three-year term. During his years in office, 1959-1965, he served as president when the Independent School District merged into an area-wide borough school district. This experience had special significance as independent school districts erased city lines and pioneered area-wide thinking that eventually led toward the development of a borough government and a unified municipality in 1975.[18] Later, he was appointed to the Alaska State Board of Education. He also served the state as vice president of the Alaska Association of School Boards, and as a member of the Alaska Educational Broadcasting Commission, and the Alaska State Investment Advisory Committee. He co-chaired the statewide fund drive to start Alaska Methodist University.

In 1959, Reed was appointed as chairman of the first City of Anchorage Charter Commission under Alaska Statehood. In October 1959, Anchorage voters approved a home rule charter for the City under the home rule provisions of the state constitution adopted by voters in 1956. The delegates of the Alaska constitution specifically excluded any form of county government or special districts but provided for boroughs and cities, in an attempt to provide necessary services without the problems of overlap and duplication. A major effect of Statehood and the new state constitution in 1959 was to create another competing local government in the Anchorage area, which eventually led to the unification of the City of Anchorage and the Greater Anchorage Area Borough in 1975.[19]

Reed’s proudest achievement was his public service as chairman of the Anchorage Charter Commission, the group that wrote the municipal charter when the City of Anchorage and the Greater Anchorage Area Borough were united to create the Municipality of Anchorage. In September 1975, voters approved the idea of unification and elected a mayor and an eleven-member municipal assembly.[20] In 2006, he said:

“I couldn’t have done these things had it not been for the cooperation of my employers. Many of the things I’ve done have taken time out of my work day. My employers had always been the type people who said, ‘Go ahead and do it, Frank.’ “[21]

Reed was involved with numerous civic organizations. He was president of such organizations as the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, Navy League, Greater Anchorage Federated Charities (United Fund), and the Alaska Crippled Children’s Association. He helped fundraise for the Anchorage YMCA, was president of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, and helped organize what is now the United Way of Anchorage in 1957. He also served as director of the Marston Foundation, formed by Marvin “Muktuk” Marston, to encourage developing local food sources, such as potatoes, in Bush villages. He was a member of the Anchorage Lions Club for many years, serving as secretary, president, and zone chairman. He was also chairman of the Young Artists’ Scholarship Fund of the Alaska Festival of Music.

Reed’s honors and awards were numerous, awarded for a lifetime of service and exceptional commitment and involvement in the Anchorage community. Among them, he was recognized as the “Outstanding Alaskan of the Year” in 1976 by the Alaska Chamber of Commerce, in part, for successfully creating Anchorage’s city charter in 1959 and bringing warring factions together when city and borough were combined to form the Municipality of Anchorage in 1975.[22] Other service awards included election into the Alaska Hall of Fame (1969) and the Alaska Press Club Hall of Fame of outstanding Alaskans. He received a Community Service Award from the YMCA during a four-year period (1975-1978). Other awards included a national fundraising award, “Outstanding Volunteer in Philanthropy” (1991) and the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce’s Gold Pan Award.[23]

Maxine Reed was a prominent member of the Anchorage community, as she supported Frank Reed’s activities. Her volunteer work included board membership on the Alaska World Affairs Council. She was active in the PTA, Mental Health Association, Anchorage Woman’s Club, American Cancer Society, and the Anchorage Health Board. In 1958, she co-founded with Lile Rasmuson the Cotillion Club, an all-volunteer, non-profit association that organized semiformal dances throughout the year. She considered it her largest contribution to Anchorage, and the Cotillion Club is still very active in providing a positive environment for students to socialize and dance. She also was a member of the Greater Anchorage Area Borough Consumer’s Commission in 1971-1972.[24]

Frank and Maxine Reed were married for seventy-one years. Maxine Reed died in Anchorage on January 25, 2008, at the age of ninety-seven. Frank Reed died on January 22, 2012, at Providence Hospital, at the age of ninety-nine, from pneumonia. They were survived by their daughter, Pauline Reed (1942-2013), of Mercer Island, Washington. Their son, Frank Jr., died in 2007.


Endnotes

[1] Frank M. Reed, interview by Stephen Haycox and Maureen Cowles, transcribed by Gail Hoshiko-Reed, September 17, 1993, Anchorage Pioneers Oral History Project, Oral History Transcripts, 1992-1995 (HMC-0466), Folder 18, Box 1, Series 2, Oral History Interview Transcripts, 1992-1993, Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, AK.

[2] Frank I. Reed, “Qualification and Identification Card of Members,” Pioneers of Alaska, May 11, 1917, Folders 18-19, Membership Applications, Series 1: General Records, 1917-1987, Pioneers of Alaska, Igloo No. 15, Records (HMC-0202), 1916-1988, Box 4, Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, AK.

[3] Frank I. Reed and Pauline B. Hovey, Marriage Certificate, Seattle, King County, Washington, November 15, 1904, Washington, Marriage Records, 1854-2013 [database on-line], http://ancestry.com (accessed September 30, 2016).

[4] Frank I. Reed, “Qualification and Identification Card of Members,” Pioneers of Alaska, May 11, 1917, Folders 18-19, Membership Applications, Series 1: General Records, 1917-1987, Pioneers of Alaska, Igloo No. 15, Records (HMC-0202), 1916-1988, Box 4, Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, AK.

[5] Kristy Hollinger, The Early Electrification of Anchorage, edited by Glenda R. Lesondak (Fort Richardson, AK: Natural Resources Branch, U.S. Army Alaska; Fort Collins, CO: Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands, 2002), 16, http://permanent.access.gpo.gov/gpo26750/Early_Electrification_of_Anchorage_Study.pdf (accessed September 30, 2016);  Melissa Campbell, “Call him a Lifer – Frank Reed has Long Embodied Alaska’s Frontier Spirit Growing up with Anchorage,” Anchorage Daily News, November 12, 2006, H-1; Elizabeth Tower, Anchorage: From Its Humble Beginnings as a Railroad Construction Camp (Fairbanks: Epicenter Press, 1999), 56; and Michael Carberry and Donna Lane, Patterns of the Past: An Inventory of Anchorage’s Historic Resources (Anchorage: Community Planning Department, Municipality of Anchorage, 1986), 124.

[6] Melissa Campbell, “Call him a Lifer – Frank Reed has Long Embodied Alaska’s Frontier Spirit Growing up with Anchorage,” Anchorage Daily News, November 12, 2006, H-1.

[7] Terrence Cole and Elmer E. Rasmuson, Banking on Alaska: The Story of the National Bank of Alaska, Volume 1: A History of NBA (Anchorage: Rasmuson Foundation, 2000), 157.

[8] Frank M. Reed, The Anchor, Class of 1931 (Anchorage: Times Printing Company, 1931), 13, Folder 4: Anchorage high school photographs and documents, Frank Reed Papers, 1905-2009 (HMC-0206), Box 4, Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, AK.

[9] Marriage certificate, Frank M. Reed and Maxine McGary, June 11, 1937, Seattle, King County, Washington, Marriage Records, 1854-2013 [database on-line], http://ancestry.com (accessed September 28, 2016).

[10] In a 2003 “Alaskana” article by Sharon Bushell, Maxine Reed said: “My dad was quite a brilliant man who could not tie himself to an everyday routine job. Consequently, my mother—with three children—returned to teaching. She truly loved teaching, and her students loved her.” See, Sharon Bushell, “Getting Involved: Maxine Reed – Alaskana Interview,” Anchorage Daily News, November 16, 2003, Life, D-3, http://www.roadtunesmedia.com/article/reed_maxine.html (accessed October 1, 2016).

[11] Vivian Maxine McGary, Washington Births, 1891-1919 [microfilm edition], Washington State Archives, Olympia, WA, Washington Birth Records, 1879-1935 [database on-line], http://ancestry.com (accessed October 1, 2016); Fond Memories of Anchorage, Vol. 1 (Anchorage: Pioneers of Alaska, Igloo 15, Auxiliary 4, 1996), 186-187; and Obituary, “Community Affairs Activist, Maxine Reed, Dies,” Anchorage Daily News, January 29, 2009, A-11, http://www.anchoragelions.org/maxine.html (accessed September 30, 2016).

[12] Fond Memories of Anchorage, Vol. 1, 186-187; Obituary, Frank M. Reed, Anchorage Daily News, January 23, 2012, A-6; and Frank M. Reed, interview by Stephen Haycox and Maureen Cowles, transcribed by Gail Hoshiko-Reed, September 17, 1993, Anchorage Pioneers Oral History Project, Oral History Transcripts, 1992-1995 (HMC-0466), 2 and 23-25.

[13] Charles Wohlforth, From the Shores of Ship Creek: Stories of Anchorage’s First 100 Years (Anchorage: Todd Communications for the Anchorage Centennial Commission, 2014), 43-44. See also, Chapter 5: “Frank Reed: Adjusting to World War,” 39-46.

[14] Ibid., 46.

[15] Frank M. Reed, interview by Stephen Haycox and Maureen Cowles, transcribed by Gail Hoshiko-Reed, September 17, 1993, Anchorage Pioneers Oral History Project, Oral History Transcripts, 1992-1995 (HMC-0466), 2 and 25-26.

[16] Biographical note, Frank Reed Papers, 1905-2009 (HMC-0206), Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, AK.

[17] Fond Memories of Anchorage, Vol. 1, 186-187; and Obituary, Frank M. Reed, Anchorage Daily News, January 23, 2012, A-6; and “History of Mayors and Assembly Members, 1925-1985” [“Mayors and Councilmen of the City of Anchorage, 1925-1985”], Clerk’s Office, Municipality of Anchorage, Anchorage, AK.

[18] Paul H. Wangness, A History of the Unification of the City of Anchorage and the Greater Anchorage Area Borough, Final Research Report (Anchorage: Anchorage Urban Observatory, 1977), 214.

[19] Paul H. Wangness, A History of the Unification of the City of Anchorage and the Greater Anchorage Area Borough, 8 and 16.

[20] Ibid., iii, and 73-82.

[21] Melissa Campbell, “Call Him a Lifer – Frank Reed has Long Embodied Alaska’s Frontier Spirit Growing Up with Anchorage,” Anchorage Daily News, November 12, 2006, H-1.

[22] “Reed Named Outstanding Alaskan,” Anchorage Times, October 2, 1976, 3.

[23] Ibid.

[24] “Together [Maxine and Frank Reed], Anchorage Daily News, June 11, 2007, D-2; Sharon Bushell, “Getting Involved: Maxine Reed – Alaskana Interview,” Anchorage Daily News, November 16, 2003, Life, D-3.


Sources

No separate entry for Frank Metcalf Reed was published in John P. Bagoy’s Legends and Legacies: Anchorage 1910-1935 (Anchorage:  Publications Consultants, 2001).  See also the Frank Ivan Reed file, Bagoy Family Pioneer Files (2004.11), Box 6, Atwood Resource Center, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Anchorage, AK.  Edited by Mina Jacobs, 2012.  Note:  edited, revised, and substantially expanded by Bruce Parham, October 2, 2016.  

Preferred citation: Bruce Parham, “Reed, Frank Metcalf,” Cook Inlet Historical Society, Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1940, http://www.alaskahistory.org.


Major support for Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1940, provided by: Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Atwood Foundation, Cook Inlet Historical Society, and the Rasmuson Foundation. This educational resource is provided by the Cook Inlet Historical Society, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt association. Contact us at the Cook Inlet Historical Society, by mail at Cook Inlet Historical Society, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, 625 C Street, Anchorage, AK 99501 or through the Cook Inlet Historical Society website, www.cookinlethistory.org.