Bob Reese

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Bobby Lynn "Bob" Reese
Born (1929-04-29)April 29, 1929
Louisiana Arcadia
Bienville Parish
Louisiana, USA
Died November 26, 2004(2004-11-26) (aged 75)
United States Natchitoches, Louisiana
Alma mater

Simsboro High School

Louisiana Tech University
Occupation Businessman
Political party
Republican chairman in Jackson Parish and co-chairman in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana
Religion Baptist
Spouse(s) Gwendolyn Thomas Reese (married 1954–2004, his death)
Children No children
Parents Lester and Martha Beard Reese

Bobby Lynn Reese, known as Bob Reese (April 29, 1929 – November 26, 2004),[1] was a home builder, architectural designer, portrait painter, and businessman in Natchitoches, Louisiana, who was a co-chairman of the Natchitoches Parish Republican Party from 1968 to 2004, during an era in which Democrats dominated his region of the state, particularly at the state and local political levels.[2]

Early years, education, military[edit]

Reese was born in Arcadia, the seat of Bienville Parish in north Louisiana, to Lester Reese (1910–1977) [1] and the former Martha Beard (1911–1975). He attended Arcadia High School but graduated in 1946 from Simsboro High School in western Lincoln Parish. He attended Louisiana Tech University in Ruston but did not graduate. He served from 1948 to 1953 in the United States Air Force during the time of the Korean War, but he was not stationed in Korea. Instead, he was a clerk-typist in Japan and never even carried a gun.[3]

After his military discharge, Reese in 1954 married the former Gwendolyn Thomas, the daughter of Neil Thomas (1892–1963) and the former Lilla Perry (1898–1995)[1] of Jonesboro, the seat of Jackson Parish. Neil Thomas, a boyhood friend of Governor Jimmie Davis, was the Democratic sheriff of Jackson Parish from 1928 to 1948. In 1934, Sheriff Thomas arrived on the scene near Gibsland some ten minutes after the capture and death of the bandits Bonnie and Clyde. In the second Davis administration, Thomas served as state parole director. He died on the job of a heart attack in the front door of the state capitol in Baton Rouge. At Davis' request, Mrs. Thomas served the remaining ten months of her husband's term.[3]

Political activism[edit]

Originally a Democrat, Reese switched parties and served from 1964 to 1968 as the chairman of the Jackson Parish Republican Executive Committee. In 1964, he headed the victorious Barry M. Goldwater presidential campaign in Jackson Parish. On February 6, 1968, Reese was his party’s nominee for the Jackson Parish seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives. He received only 20.3 percent in the race against the Democratic newcomer and a personal friend, E.L. "Bubba" Henry, also of Jonesboro, later an attorney and lobbyist in Baton Rouge.[4]

Shortly after that legislative campaign, the Reeses moved to Natchitoches, where he continued his home building career through Howard Lumber Company, which also employed his brother-in-law, Johnny B. Kelly (1925–1996)[1] in Minden, the seat of Webster Parish in north Louisiana.[2]

He worked for the election of David C. Treen in the unsuccessful 1972 gubernatorial campaign against the Democrat Edwin Washington Edwards. In that same election on February 1, 1972, Reese was the Republican nominee for an open seat in the Louisiana State Senate caused by the primary defeat of long-term Democratic incumbent Sylvan Friedman, but Reese lost to the Democrat Paul Lee Foshee, Sr., a Natchitoches crop duster, who would serve only the one term from 1972 to 1976.[5][6] Reese did not again seek office but decided to work within the party structure to advance his political views. He became immediately active in the attempt to revitalize the Republican Party in Natchitoches, the oldest city in the state.

When Treen finally became governor in 1980, he appointed Reese's former opponent, Bubba Henry, an original Edwards supporter, as his commissioner of administration. From 1968 to 1996, Reese was a member of the Louisiana Republican State Central Committee.[2] From 1968 until his death, he was a member of the Natchitoches Parish Board of Election Supervisors by virtue of his ex officio role as parish party co-chairman. .[7]

Later years and death[edit]

In his later years, Reese was a portrait painter and a coach at his Bob Reese School of Gymnastics in Natchitoches.[2] He was affiliated with the First Baptist Church of Jonesboro and then the First Baptist Church of Natchitoches, where Mrs. Reese retains membership.[3]

Reese died of melanoma on the day after Thanksgiving Day in 2004. Mrs. Reese (born February 14, 1932) graduated from Jonesboro-Hodge High School in 1950 and Louisiana Tech in 1954. She has been a dance instructor for more than six decades and operates the Gwen Reese School of Dance in Natchitoches in the building which her husband had designed and constructed.[8] Mrs. Reese’s older sister, Nedra T. Kelly of Minden, is a retired Realtor and a former member of the Webster Parish School Board.[3]

Reese is interred in the Thomas family plot at the Jonesboro Cemetery.[2]

Three years after Reese's death, Republicans Rick Nowlin and Gerald Long[9] won both the state House and state Senate seats embracing Reese's adopted city of Natchitoches.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Social Security Death Index". ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved October 9, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Obituary of Bob Reese. Shreveport Times, November 27, 2004
  3. ^ a b c d Statement of Gwendolyn Thomas Reese, December 1, 2009
  4. ^ Louisiana Secretary of State, Louisiana election returns, February 6, 1968
  5. ^ Louisiana Secretary of State, Louisiana election returns, February 1, 1972
  6. ^ "Membership in the Louisiana State Senate, 1812-2008". legis.state.la.us. Retrieved September 23, 2009. 
  7. ^ "Louisiana Parish Election Officials LIst". longdistancevoter.org. Retrieved September 26, 2009. 
  8. ^ "Gwen Reese School of Dance". merchantcircle.com. Retrieved October 9, 2009. 
  9. ^ Louisiana Secretary of State, Election returns, October 20 and November 17, 2007