Baseball, Friends, Maine Democratic Party, Maine gubernatorial campaign (1974), U.S. Attorney, U.S. Senate appointment (1980)
Norman S. “Norm” Reef was born on August 16, 1933, in Portland, Maine, where he grew up with his parents, Samuel Reef and Dora Reef, and seven siblings. His father emigrated from Lithuania at age fourteen and worked as a cobbler. Norm grew up in the Jewish community of Portland, and the family struggled to make ends meet during the Depression and World War II. He attended Boston University and after two years joined the Army; the Korean War ended just as he completed training. He returned to study public relations at Boston University and then attended law school to help with his brothers’ insurance finance business. After being married, he set up a law practice in Portland. He became part of the fund-raising group for the Maine Democratic Party and encouraged Governor Brennan to appoint Mitchell to the Senate. He has also done legal work for Mitchell and is a personal friend. His daughter, Grace Reef, worked as a legislative assistant in Mitchell’s U.S. Senate office. He retired in 1989 from full-time practice of law. At the time of this interview, he was working on bringing about the production of a patent he holds for an industrial waste incinerator that generates power, associated with the firm Maine Microfurnace.
Interview includes discussion of: family and educational background; the Jewish community in Portland; growing up in a large family during WWII; the Army and being a dental technician in Texas; Boston University and being president of a fraternity; working with his brothers and going to law school; joining the finance committee for the Maine Democratic Party; Muskie’s swearing in as secretary of state 1980; meeting President Clinton; why Mitchell lost the 1974 gubernatorial race; a meeting in Augusta and Brennan’s decision to appoint Mitchell to the Senate; Mitchell at hockey games and his involvement with the Red Sox; Mitchell’s relationship to Muskie; Mitchell as U.S. attorney; humorous anecdotes about Grace’s internship in Mitchell’s office; Reef’s retirement and return to work; the Microfurnace patent; and Mitchell’s exceptional character.
This recording and transcription are © 2011 Bowdoin College and are presented for private study, scholarship, or research only. For all other uses, including publication, reproduction, and quotation beyond “fair use” (Title 17, United States Code) permission must be obtained in writing from the George J. Mitchell Dept. of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library, 3000 College Station, Brunswick, Maine 04011-8421, USA.