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Orem • City Manager Jim Reams was the kind of administrator who didn't run things from his office.

Friends and colleagues remembered Reams Wednesday as a man who spent time with employees and knew them — and many of their spouses — by name. But while he was hands-on, he was no micro-manager.

"He had faith in his department heads," recalled Councilwoman Karen McCandless. "He knew how to be a good manager."

Reams, who worked with the city for 17 years — the last 14 as city manager — died Tuesday of a heart attack after leaving a City Council meeting. He was 53.

He is survived by his wife, Susan, six children and two grandchildren.

Flags at City Center flew at half-staff and employees, some holding back tears, wore ribbons of blue and green, the city's colors, in his honor.

The Virginia native's office decorations included Civil War memorabilia alongside his Brigham Young University diplomas.

Reams came to the city in 1993 as assistant city manager. Before that, he was West Jordan's city manager.

Stella Welsh, who was Orem's mayor at the time, said Reams made a mark on the city in Utah County.

"You can see Jim Reams all over the city," Welsh said. "The parks and open spaces, the landscaping along Center Street and Nielsen's Grove, Jim was involved in them all."

Welsh said Reams suggested the city buy Nielsen's Grove, once a historic recreation area that had become overrun with weeds and garbage. She said he was also instrumental in creating Canyon Park, home of the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival.

Welsh and McCandless said Reams was an honest, loyal friend and colleague.

"You always knew where you stood with him," McCandless said.

Highland City Manager John Park, who worked as Ream's assistant, said Reams was a mentor to him long after he left Orem.

"We would go to lunch once a month and we would compare notes," Park said.

Jon Amundson, assistant city manager in Richland, Wash., said Reams put him on the career path to city management. While interning for then-Rep. Margaret Dayton, Amudson interviewed Reams about what it took to be a city manager.

"He was willing, and excited to see someone who was interested [in that career]," Amundson recalled. "We spent an afternoon together, and he took me to the different departments."

Assistant City Manager Jeff Pedersen has taken over day-to-day operations, and the council is expected to appoint an interim manager, McCandless said.