Mackinac Center President Honors the Memory of Richard H. Headlee

“A Giant of Michigan Political History”

Richard H. Headlee
Richard H. Headlee

For Immediate Release
Contact: Chris Bachelder, Director of Communications
Phone: (989) 631-0900

MIDLAND — Mackinac Center President Lawrence W. Reed today honored the memory of Richard H. Headlee, who passed away early this morning, and called him "a giant of Michigan’s political history." Reed was an acquaintance of Headlee’s and served on the State of Michigan’s Headlee Amendment Blue Ribbon Commission, whose report in 1994 documented the success of the Headlee Amendment’s first 15 years.

"Every state citizen who believes in limited, responsible and accountable government mourns the loss of a genuine hero," Reed said. "Dick Headlee was a man of character — honest, dependable and committed to the highest standards of speech and conduct. He was as principled in his public life as he was in his private relations."

Reed observed that Headlee’s political career should be seen as an expression of his values, not of personal ambition. "Dick believed passionately in a free society," Reed said. "He didn’t run for governor because he wanted to be ‘in charge’ or because he craved the limelight. He was a living example of the ancient republican ideal: the citizen who sets down his plow to put right what is wrong and serve his community.

"Dick lost a close race for governor in 1982, but in other ways, he governed much of Michigan politics for decades. His tireless work on behalf of beleaguered taxpayers, enshrined in 1978 in our state constitution’s ‘Headlee Amendment,’ gave Michiganians a powerful shield in the battle to restrain government excess."

Reed also expressed condolences for those closest to Headlee, saying, "We at the Mackinac Center will miss the many interactions we had with Dick over the years, and we extend our deepest sympathies to his wife, Mary, and the entire Headlee family."

A longer version of Reed’s reflections on Dick Headlee is posted at