Posted by Bob Cassidy on Apr 07, 2021
The Rotary Club of Bedford suffered a terrible loss this week. Bob Mead, the last of our founding members, has slipped away from us. He was there in the beginning, and all the way through our 65 years of working around Bedford and the world.
I would categorize Bob as a quiet man. To quote a phrase, he was a quiet man who carried a big stick. In the 40-plus years I’ve known Bob, I don’t think I ever heard him raise his voice. But he also managed always to get things done. He wasn’t the kind of man who would participate in open-floor debates. He preferred to work his magic behind the scenes. One of the things he was most proud of was his perfect attendance in Rotary. Bob had perfect attendance for more  than 50 years, and we loved him for it. When he was hospitalized, we actually cancelled our regular meeting and held it in his hospital room at Leahy. With tears in his eyes, all he could say was, “Thank you!”
Bob was president of the club for the 1962-1963 Rotary year. In 1984, he showed up in my office at the Department of Public Works and asked to talk privately with me. "I’m here, Bob, to ask you to be our president next year, " he said. "We’re in a hell of a mess, and I think you can straighten it out. And, I’ll be there in the background, to help you." I said yes, we did straighten it out, and the rest is history. Our club has done a lot of projects in and out of Bedford over the past 65 years. And, Bob has been the champion of many of them, and participated in all of them. If Bob heard of a problem around town, or if any of our members were having difficulties, you could count on a “private” visit from Bob. And, he would do his best to solve the problem. If it required the help of the club, he would organize it. If it was a private problem of one of our members, he would solve it for them - if he could. He did not want - nor did he ever ask for - anything in return. I knew of some of these instances, and let's just say there were lots of them over the years.
Who knows how many lives Bob has touched over his 96 years - and his 65 years in Rotary. While I wouldn’t even want to venture a guess, it started in Rotary with Spring Brooks Park - and not the renovation. I’m referring to the original construction. Then, there was 9/11. I can still hear him saying, “We can’t let this go. Let's build a memorial so folks won’t forget, and they’ll have somewhere quiet to go with their thoughts.” Bob was not at all bashful either. He was tenacious! About 10 years ago, he heard the Shriners were collecting aluminum can tabs and selling them, to buy equipment for their children’s hospitals. Bob decided it was a good idea that we should get involved in. Before you knew it, collection jars started showing up all over town. At last count, he collected more than two million of them. The local Shriners even made a special trip to our club meeting, to present him with a giant Teddy bear, to commemorate that accomplishment. At all of our meetings, he went around and made sure you had taken the aluminum tab off the can for him.
About five years ago, Bob found out I collected stamps. I swear I now have the stamps and postage off every one of the postal deliveries made to his home since. He was also quite the prankster. And, he was sneaky about it, too. When a prank was sprung, everybody laughed. And, when we looked at Bob, he was just sitting there with a big, shit-eating grin all over his face.
Bob had quite the family: his beautiful wife, Marge Mead; a pile of kids; and, even more grandchildren and great grandchildren. We were his friends, and part of his extended family. Every week, we would go around the club meeting room and drop a few bucks in the happy-dollar pot for a new grandchild, a retirement, a memorable vacation, etc. When it came to Bob each week, his standard statement was always, “I’m glad I’m still able to come to the meeting.” 
When someone, or something is always there, we have a tendency to take them/it for granted. In all the years I’ve known Bob, I don’t think he ever fell into one of those categories. He was bigger than life, and we all looked forward every week to seeing him. I am proud to call him my friend. I will miss him, and all members of our club will miss him, deeply! Safe journey, my friend.
In lieu of flowers, Bob requested that donations be made to support organizations that make positive and lasting impacts on others - his or yours. Donations may be made to: Rotary Club of Bedford, P.O. Box 414, Bedford, MA 01730; Massachusetts Arborists Association, 67 West St., Medfield, MA 02052; and/or Shriners- Aleppo Center, 99 Fordham Rd., Wilmington, MA 01887.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, there was no public service. A celebration of Bob's life will take place at a later date. To plant Memorial Trees in memory of Bob, click here.
For more information, contact Bedford Rotarian Bob Cassidy at




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