Richard Reese, Jr.
Mr. Richard (Dick) Reese, Jr, husband, father, grandfather, churchman, businessman and civic activist, died Friday morning, August 6th. He was 97 and lived his entire life in Wilmington, Delaware except for four years during World War II.
He is the son of Richard Reese, Sr., and Eliza Ellis Tull Reese of Elkton, Wilmington and Lewes. He was born in his parents home at 1901 Rockford Road in Wilmington on April 8, 1913 where he grew up and later lived as an adult with his family. He spent his summers at his parents farm near Elkton and their beach house in Lewes, Delaware where he became an accomplished sailor. Mr. Reese attended Tower Hill School starting in the first grade in 1919 when the school opened and progressing through all 12 grades graduating in 1931.
In his senior year, Mr. Reese was president of the student body at Tower Hill and played varsity football, basketball and baseball. He spent a post graduate year at the Asheville School for Boys, an Episcopal boarding school in Asheville, NC. There he took up crew and lettered in the sport. He was a fine athlete also achieving notoriety in tennis, badminton, golf and sailing where he was the Lewes Yacht Club Champion in 1933, an event still commemorated in a larger than life picture of him and his father in the taproom of the current Lewes Yacht Club.
He attended undergraduate school at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut where he played varsity football and was a member of Si Upsilon fraternity. He was a drummer in the college big band and later put a jazz group together. During spring vacations the combo would earn some pocket money by playing on liners that plied their way between New York City and Bermuda. After Wesleyan, he attended the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.
He joined Francis I. du Pont & Company shortly after finishing with school and was employed there until hired by the DuPont Company in 1941 to supervise a black powder production line at its Indiana Powder Works across the Ohio River from Louisville, KY. He returned with a family of five to Wilmington in 1945 and was employed by the Equitable Life Assurance Society as a life underwriter. He advanced to the position of executive assistant to the agency manager and with a colleague developed for the DuPont Company one of the first health insurance plans in the United States. With this experience behind him, he left the Equitable and took a position as the executive assistant to the President of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Delaware. After four years there, he returned to the Equitable and became the area manager of their businesses in Wilmington, the Delmarva Peninsula and southern New Jersey. He retired from the Equitable in 1978.
Like his father before him, Mr. Reese is most remembered in his role as a civic activist. He was a founder and Scout Master of Troop 12 at Trinity Church at Delaware Avenue and Adams Street. He was adored by the boys, many of whom in their adult life could be heard hailing him in downtown Wilmington with a hearty Hey, Uncle Dick! With Bishop McKinstry and former Mayor and Congressman Hal Haskell, he was a founding director of Camp Arrowhead in Sussex County where he undertook a mission of promoting the camp across the state. He was president of the Tatnall Schools Parent Teacher Association and became engaged with the American Field Service later hosting one of their students in his home. As a member of the Kiwanis Club in Wilmington he could be seen leading their Peanut Day, a civic fund raiser, using his Air Stream travel trailer parked next to Rodney Square where his club members could refresh themselves and from which they could replenish the fund raisers peanut stock. As a director and then Chairman of the Regional Advisory Board of the Salvation Army, Mr. Reese led the charge to raise funds and build a homeless shelter for families in downtown Wilmington. For these efforts and others he was awarded the Salvation Armys William Booth Award by the Armys national commander. He later was elected a life member of the board.
Mr. Reese served on the vestry of Trinity Church where he followed his father who had been a vestryman and treasurer there for many years. He led the Servers Guild and at 87 was still pulling duty as the first server at the 8:00 AM communion service. Similarly with his beloved wife, Aggie, he became involved with Meals on Wheels Delaware. He helped to start up the umbrella group in Delaware becoming its Chairman. He created a foundation to help fund their state wide operations and delivered meals actively until he was 87. He was elected Chairman Emeritus and held that office until his death.
In the twilight of his life, he became involved with the Kentmere Nursing Care Center (formerly The Home of Merciful Rest) of which both his mother and his wife had been presidents of the board. A transitional figure, he became the first male president of the board and helped them to build a new wing of which he was a very proud resident during his last days. For these and countless other endeavors on behalf of others, in 1999 then Governor Tom Carper and Lt. Governor Ruth Ann Minner decorated Mr. Reese as one of Delawares outstanding volunteers at a dinner in Dover in recognition of his many years of service to Delawareans.
He had a full life, was loved by many and had a wonderful group of friends and colleagues. Mr. Reese was formerly a member of the Wilmington Country Club, the Greenville Country Club and the Lewes Yacht Club.
He is survived by his daughter, Dorsey, sons, Brud (Richard, III), Philip (Daphne), and Brent, grandchildren Julie Dillard, Keith Dillard (Teresa), Lee Reese, Natalie Reese Campbell (Ian), Bessie Reese and Toby Reese, and great grandchildren, Emily Mineiro and Eliza Lynn Dillard. His wife, Agnes Fuller Morgan, pre-deceased him as did a sister, Elizabeth Reese Latrobe, and a grandson, Jeffrey Dillard.
He will be interred at Lower Brandywine Presbyterian Cemetery near Centreville. A memorial service and reception for the family and friends is planned for Saturday, August 21st at 11:00 AM at Old Swedes Episcopal Church at 606 North Church Street in Wilmington. The reception hosted by the Reese family will follow immediately after the service at the Parish House on the church grounds.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations may be made in his memory to the Salvation Army of Delaware, 400 North Orange Street, Wilmington, DE 19801; or to Meals on Wheels Delaware, 100 West 10th Street, Wilmington, DE 19801-1625.
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