Shepherdstown man appointed to W.Va. cabinet

January 31, 1997


Staff Writer

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A Shepherdstown retiree named Friday to head the state's Bureau of Commerce says he couldn't resist a return to public service.

"Politics is like malaria. Once it's in your system you can never flush it out," said 59-year-old Robert Reintsema in an interview from a pay telephone on his way home from Charleston, where his appointment was announced Friday by Gov. Cecil Underwood.

Reintsema, a Republican, was one of five cabinet secretaries and three bureau commissioners appointed Friday by Underwood.

Just one of the new officials is a Democrat.

Reintsema, a New York City native who has lived in Jefferson County for about 16 years, retired four years ago as administrative assistant to U.S. Rep Clarence Miller, R-Ohio.


His 26-year career in federal government also included a 31/2-year stint as a Ford administration appointee in the U.S. Department of Commerce, Reintsema said.

There he served as deputy director and then acting director of congressional affairs, a position in which he worked with international trade, economic development and tourism.

It was that experience, plus his past association with Underwood's Chief of Staff Bill Phillips who also worked on Capitol Hill and at the Commerce Department, that got Reintsema his new job, he said.

Phillips called him in the middle of the week and he was offered the job after having lunch with the governor on Thursday, Reintsema said.

"The emphasis clearly seems to be on economic development and tourism," he said.

Reintsema said he supported Underwood in the November election and was involved, in a limited way, in the re-election campaign of Republican U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett in Western Maryland.

The four-year, full-time commitment will mean Reintsema will live in Charleston during the week and come home to Shepherdstown on the weekends, he said.

But the Reintsemas have their home on the market. When it sells, Reintsema's wife, Judy, will move to Charleston, she said.

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