Lake Placid mourns Beverley Reid, former village historian

Beverley Reid, town/village historian, greets Clara Cleveland Bass at the train station museum as the Lake Placid-North Elba Historical Society received a donation from Bass of hundreds of glass-plate negatives and photographs taken by her father, Grover Cleveland, who was a professional photographer in Lake Placid from 1916 to the late 1950s. (Enterprise photo — Andy Flynn)

LAKE PLACID — When Beverley Pratt Reid found out she was being honored as the town/village volunteer of the year last year — at the age of 90 — she thought, “Oh dear.”

“I said, ‘You don’t want me. Get some young people in there,'” she told the Lake Placid Community Day crowd on June 4, 2023, at the North Elba Show Grounds.

What they got was a woman with decades of experience volunteering and being the town of North Elba and village of Lake Placid historian — a community-minded person whose dedication to her hometown was like no other.

“She loved Lake Placid, and everything that she had to do at Lake Placid, she loved,” said Karen Fountain, who took over for Reid as the town/village historian in January 2022.

Fountain is one of many people who are mourning her predecessor this week; Reid died on Tuesday surrounded by family at the Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake. She was 91 years old.

Beverley Reid, former town/village historian, tells stories from a bench after the dedication of Brewster Park on Main Street, Lake Placid, in October 2022. (Enterprise photo — Lauren Yates)

“I went over to the hospital, dropped in, and the whole family was there and they let me go in and just say goodbye,” Fountain said. “It was nice.”

Beverley Reid

The daughter of Audrey and Gordon Pratt, Reid was born on Jan. 16, 1933, at 30 1/2 Wilmington Road in Lake Placid, behind the building they used to call Happy Jack’s and Alpine Cellar.

“There’s a road that goes down that hill, and I was born in that house right there at the foot of that hill,” she told the Lake Placid News in January 2022.

Graduating from Lake Placid High School in 1950, she went on to study at Albany Business College in the Executive Secretary class of 1951, with high honors. In 1952, she worked at Prudential Insurance Co. in Albany and transferred to the branch in Long Beach, California in 1953. When she moved back to Lake Placid, she worked at the law offices of Harold Soden.

Reid married James E. “Bugo” Reid on Nov. 17, 1956, at St. Agnes Church in Lake Placid, and they raised a family of seven children while she ran a personal secretarial business. Then Reid worked for Jim Strack at Tri Lakes Electric from the late 1970s until his death in 2005.


Throughout the years, Reid spent endless hours volunteering for organizations such as the Lake Placid Pee Wee Association, Lake Placid Central School Alumni Association, Adirondack Community Church, Lake Placid/North Elba Historical Society, Lake Placid Beautification Inc. and the Lake Placid Public Library.

In her 2023 volunteer of the year speech, she said she got the volunteering bug from her mother.

“She used to say, ‘The more you give, the more you get,'” Reid said.

Reid volunteered with her mother as long as she can remember and kept doing it in adulthood.

During the 1980 Winter Olympics, Reid’s whole family volunteered, so their house was a flurry of activity. She was on the hockey and speedskating committees. She saw all five of U.S. speedskater Eric Heiden’s races, which he swept that year.

“I was there for the Miracle on Ice, but I had to leave to go to a speedskating meeting,” she told the Community Day crowd.

Town/village historian

Reid’s most recent contribution to her hometown was being the town/village historian, taking over from Mary MacKenzie in 2001 and retiring at the end of 2021.

“She retired from the Historian position in 2021,” her obituary stated, “yet was answering historical questions up until last week!”

Reid spent most of 2021 teaching Fountain how to be Lake Placid’s historian.

“We were down in the library files one day before I took over and we were filing stuff in the cabinets and I came across something that I didn’t know what to do with,” Fountain said. “And she said, ‘Just think like Mary,’ meaning Mary MacKenzie. And I said, ‘Well, I never knew Mary.’ So now all I can think of is I have to think like Bev, which is going to be a great thing. … What would Bev do?”

Fountain learned many things from Reid during 2021.

“To be accurate,” she said. “Not to be afraid to go to two or three different sources, which I do now because I found you could read something in one book and in another book it’s different. To be convincing because I’m convinced that it’s right. And just to be careful because you don’t want to mess it up, because history should be recorded accurately. And to have fun.”

How will Fountain remember Reid?

“(As) a grand lady because there was something about her that was so special,” Fountain said. “She was very, very sharp all the time, even up until the very end. She loved her kids. She loved her grandkids and her great-grandkids, but she was so proud of her kids, and I think that showed through everything.”

Fountain was awed at Reid’s ability to address the public at events like the 2023 Lake Placid Community Day, when she walked up to the microphone without a prepared speech.

“She had a way with words,” Fountain said. “I don’t know how she comes up with the stuff, but she wouldn’t write anything down. She would just go up and speak, and it would be right from her heart.”

Brewster Park

When it came to fighting for accuracy in local history, Reid thought “like Mary” and publicly tried to right a wrong when it came to officially naming Brewster Park at 1 Main St. For years, it was known as Brewster Park, and then community leaders started calling it One Main Street park. Reid would have none if it and made her thoughts known in her final historian’s report to the Lake Placid Village Board of Trustees in December 2021.

In her October 2021 entry, she wrote:

“After a quick trip up Main Street I was very disappointed to see all the construction at One Main Street or what was always called Brewster Park. There is a stone there dedicating the Park to the Brewsters and Lambs, some of the first residents of Lake Placid. I contacted Mayor Devlin and sent a package of information regarding the Park and the first Hotel erected nearby. It was presented to the Board and accepted and the Park will continue to be named Brewster Park.”

Contacted Thursday about the Brewster Park package, he remembered it well.

“She did the research and told us that’s what it should be, and we renamed it,” he said. “Her presence will be missed, that’s for sure. And obviously taking over for Mary MacKenzie and being village historian was really great. We always looked forward to reading her summations at the end of the year. … I think she was a great lady and very community minded.”

Fountain remembers that project as well.

“They listened,” she said of the village board. “I was so proud of her and so glad that people listened to her because it’s named what it should be now.”

Reid was resting on a bench during the dedication ceremony of Brewster Park on Oct. 5, 2022, “She sat there afterwards and told stories, which was wonderful,” Fountain said.

Hall of Fame

Volunteer of the year wasn’t Reid’s only honor. In 2015, she was inducted into the Lake Placid Hall of Fame alongside Jim McKenna, CEO of the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism.

“It was a real honor to be inducted with Bev. It was something special for me,” McKenna said.

Reid was pleasantly surprised by being placed into the Lake Placid Hall of Fame.

“I’m just me,” she told the Lake Placid News in 2015, “just little ol’ Bev who’s lived here all her life. … It’s a big honor.”

Reid joined friends and family who were already in the hall of fame, including Olympic bobsled medalist (1952) Stanley Benham, who was inducted in 1983, and 1950 LPHS classmates Conni Devlin Cross and Shirley Wescott Seney.

McKenna said Reid will be remembered for being the town/village historian and the commitment her whole family has had to Lake Placid.

“Bev is one of those people that sort of stick out that will just bear down and get jobs done for the community,” he said. “Many times I would call her to get the appropriate information, and she always had access to it or would find it.”

Before she retired as the town/village historian, Reid was asked to co-write a history of the Adirondack Community Church in Lake Placid with fellow parishioner Claire Thayer. It was a natural for her, as Reid’s history with the church goes back to the year she was born; she was baptized there on Feb. 26, 1933.

“When I started as the historian, Mary MacKenzie had a wonderful file about the church, and I have been a member of the church all my life,” Reid told the Lake Placid News in February 2021 at the age of 88, joking, “I just sit here and shake my head. I don’t know how I got so old.”

Funeral services for Reid will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, March 5 at the Adirondack Community Church, Main Street, Lake Placid. The Rev. Derek H. Hansen, pastor, will officiate.


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