COVID-19 & Campus UpdatesFind information on Northwestern's current status and our COVID-19 response.
NUCPS Remembers Bob Reeder
May 11, 2022 – NUCPS has learned of the recent loss of Robert “Bob” Reeder, retired director of the center’s former Legal Division and long-time instructor in the Police Administration Training Program (the pre-cursor to the School of Police Staff & Command). Reeder was 91 years old when he passed away on Feb. 21, 2022, in his hometown of Topeka, Kansas.
Reeder served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, after which he earned his B.A. and J.D. degrees at Washburn University in Topeka. As a newly minted attorney, Reeder joined the staff of NUCPS – then known as the Traffic Institute – as an assistant counsel in 1960 and stayed for another 32 years as the director of the Legal Division, a popular instructor in the Police Administration Training Program (PATP), and a beloved co-worker. According to former colleague and friend George Burnetti (PATP, 1965), Reeder was a respected lecturer, teaching courses in traffic law and criminal law to a multitude of law enforcement and governmental employees in the full-time, 9-month program, commonly known as the Long Course. In fact, Burnetti – a long-time lecturer in PATP and for the Traffic Institute’s special programs – attributes Reeder as the driving force behind his decision to accept a job offer from the Traffic Institute.
Roy Lucke, retired director of the Traffic Crash Investigation & Safety Engineering division, emphasized the importance of Reeder’s work in national uniform traffic law, which was a concern throughout the 1960s and 1970s. With Reeder’s extensive legal expertise, the Traffic Institute published several manuals pertaining to traffic law and administration, including Know the Law, Traffic Law Enforcement, and Traffic Law Offenses, among others. According to Lucke, Reeder was “encyclopedic on the traffic laws across the nation. . . . He gave guidance on laws to other states. He traveled across the nation teaching and consulting.” Reeder was one of the champions for the passage of the Highway Safety Act of 1970, which established the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. He was a member of the National Safety Council’s Committee on Alcohol & Other Drugs and chaired the committee from 1973-75. While at NUCPS, Reeder also wrote Interpretation of Implied Consent Laws by the Courts in 1972. In 1974, he co-authored Vehicle Traffic Law with E.C. Fisher, which was a comprehensive review of the origins, development, and standardization of traffic regulations throughout the 50 states.
Ron Fisher, a popular NUCPS instructor in his own right and currently involved in client development, knew Reeder as one of his PATP instructors and, later, as a colleague. “He commanded respect in the classroom. He was extremely approachable by his peers and all students. A really nice guy and a real gentleman.” Burnetti seconded that description. “Bob was a genuine, friendly, and helpful colleague. He was a great guy and an excellent instructor – the students loved him,” remarked Burnetti who remained close to after his 1992 retirement.
Fisher immediately remembers Reeder’s laugh as “the most infectious laugh I’ve ever known” and that he had a love of traveling, particularly cruises. Lucke also fondly remembers Reeder’s love of telling terribly bad dad jokes and puns – as well as his passion for genealogical research, which often related to his travels. While Reeder was a Kansas boy, Burnetti says that Evanston and NU were close seconds in Reeder’s heart. “I’m proud to have known and worked with Bob and am truly sorry for his passing,” said Burnetti.
Following his retirement from Northwestern, Reeder served as the executive director of the National Committee of Uniform Traffic Laws and Ordinances. His was admitted to practice in the State of Kansas and federal courts, including U.S. Supreme Court.
He is survived by his sister Ermyl Broyles, a niece, nephew-in-law, and several grand- and great-grand nephews and nieces. Our condolences go out to his family and loved ones.
Former students and colleagues can leave a message in Reeder’s memorial guest book at https://www.parkerpricefh.com/Obituary/211478/Robert-Reeder/Topeka-KS.