Bob Reese

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For two other Republicans named "Reese", see Frellsen Reese, George Reese, and Jim Reese.
Bobby Lynn "Bob" Reese

(Businessman and
political activist)

Political party Republican chairman in Jackson Parish and thereafter the co-chairman in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana (1968-2004)

Born April 29, 1929
Arcadia, Bienville Parish, Louisiana
Died November 26, 2004 (aged 75)
Natchitoches, Louisiana
Spouse Gwendolyn Thomas Reese (married 1954–2004, his death)

No children
Parents:
Lester and Martha Beard Reese

Religion Southern Baptist

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

Reese was born in Arcadia in Bienville Parish in north Louisiana, to Lester Reese (1910–1977)[1] and the former Martha Beard (1911–1975).[3] 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.[4]

After his military discharge, Reese in 1954 married the former Gwendolyn Thomas (February 14, 1932 – December 8, 2017), the daughter of Neil Thomas (1892–1963) and the former Lilla Perry (1898–1995) from Jonesboro in Jackson Parish. Neil Thomas, a boyhood friend of former 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 building in Baton Rouge At Davis' request, Mrs. Thomas served the remaining ten months of her husband's term as parole director.[4]

Political activism

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 Barry Goldwater presidential campaign, which easily carried 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, Edgerton L. "Bubba" Henry, also of Jonesboro, later a lawyer and lobbyist in Baton Rouge.[5]

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) in Minden in Webster Parish in northwestern Louisiana.[2]

He worked for the election of David C. Treen in the unsuccessful 1972 gubernatorial campaign against the Democrat Edwin 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, one of Louisiana's few Jewish legislators. Reese lost to the Democrat Paul Foshee, a Natchitoches crop duster, who would serve only one Senate term from 1972 to 1976.[6][7] 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][3] 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.[8]

Later years and death

In his later years, Reese was a portrait painter and operated his own Bob Reese School of Gymnastics in Natchitoches.[2] He was affiliated with Lions International and the First Baptist Church of Jonesboro[3] and then the First Baptist Church of Natchitoches, where Mrs. Reese retained membership after his death.[4]

Mrs. Reese graduated from Jonesboro-Hodge High School in 1950 and Louisiana Tech in 1954. She was a dance instructor for more than six decades and operated the Gwen Reese School of Dance in Natchitoches in the building which her husband had designed and constructed.[9] Mrs. Reese's older sister, Nedra Thomas Kelly of Minden (born July 11, 1929), is a retired real estate agent and a former member of the Webster Parish School Board.[4]

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

Three years after Reese's death, Republicans Rick Nowlin and Gerald Long[10] won both the state House and state Senate seats embracing Reese's adopted city of Natchitoches.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Bobby Lynn Reese. search.ancestry.com. Retrieved on January 16, 2015.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Obituary of Bob Reese. The Shreveport Times, November 27, 2004
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Louisiana: Bob Reese", Who's Who in American Politics, 2007-2008 (Marquis Who's Who: New Providence, New Jersey, 2007), p. 670.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Statement of Gwendolyn Thomas Reese, December 1, 2009.
  5. Louisiana Secretary of State, Louisiana election returns, February 6, 1968
  6. Louisiana Secretary of State, Louisiana election returns, February 1, 1972
  7. Membership in the Louisiana State Senate, 1812-2008 for Natchitoches Parish. legis.state.la.us. Retrieved on September 23, 2009.
  8. Louisiana Parish Election Officials List. longdistancevoter.org. Retrieved on September 26, 2009.
  9. Gwen Reese School of Dance. merchantcircle.com. Retrieved on October 9, 2009.
  10. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election returns, October 20 and November 17, 2007