Born in Neenah, Wisconsin, on October 22, 1912, John P. Reeve spent his college years at Lawrence University. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics in 1934, Mr. Reeve found employment with Appleton Papers, where he spent the rest of his 43-year career.
His first position was sales assistant to the sales manager. The network and friendships he developed with industry peers in the early years proved to be indispensable as he moved into positions of personnel manager, mill manager, vice president, executive vice president, president, and chief executive officer.
Mr. Reeve is credited with leading the company through its tremendous development as a prime supplier of carbonless paper. There were considerable business and technology risks to be taken with this path. While NCR had the pressure sensitive technology, Appleton Papers had to develop and implement technology that could coat this material and subsequently handle the rolls of coated paper, while eliminating premature release of the chemicals. Other, much larger, companies were offered the opportunity and turned it down because of the risk. Mr. Reeve accepted the challenge.
From a personnel standpoint, he met the goal through astute hiring policies. From a management standpoint, he spearheaded the construction of several new coater buildings and installation of additional coater capacity. The efforts resulted in the company being favorably received and becoming NCR Corporation’s major supplier. Mr. Reeve’s role in bringing the firm to its eminence in the coating field helped propel the company to a billion dollar enterprise.
Mr. Reeve was a leader through inspiration—bringing out the best in people. It was he who made the success possible by quietly urging people on to discharge their responsibilities. It never seemed that he was in charge or in a leadership role. He was on the sidelines when it came time to acknowledge those who had accomplished the goals he had set.
Under his leadership, Appleton Paper contributed leaders and financial support to community organizations including Lawrence University, The YMCA, and Boy Scouts of America. Mr. Reeve was personally involved as chairman of the board of Lawrence University. He also helped with the development of Appleton Memorial Hospital, participating in the original fund drives. He was president of the Ephraim Historical Foundation in Door County. He served on Lawrence University’s Board in an emeritus position.
Mr. Reeve is survived by his wife Jean. They have three children: James, Elizabeth, and Barbara.