Robert Reese Sr. 1922-2018


Friends and family will gather to celebrate the life and home-going of Robert Allen Reese, Sr at 3 p.m. on Saturday Jan. 13  at Lakeside Baptist Church, Canton. He met his Savior face to face on Jan. 5, 2018 at the age of 95.

Known as Dad to several, Granddad by many, and as simply Bob by his beloved wife, Joey, his service will be a time of joy, of memories, and a testimony of a life well spent and of a man much beloved for his twinkling blue eyes of humor, his integrity, and his work ethic.

Born in Philadelphia, Pa. on Aug. 30, 1922, to parents Joseph and Ethel Reese, he was the oldest of three sons. He graduated from high school there, and entered the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania in 1941, participating in the ROTC program.

He convinced his parents to allow him to sign up for the Army Air Corps. He entered service on Jan 25, 1943, trained as a P-47 fighter pilot, and was placed in active service Feb. 8, 1944.

In June of 1944, he departed for England and France, assigned to the 10th Fighter Squadron, 50th Fighter Group based near Carenton, France, about eight miles south of Utah Beach.

The missions he flew were primarily low altitude in support of General George Patton’s 3rd Army and General Alexander Patch’s 7th Army in France and Germany, providing air support for the ground troops including destroying enemy trains, bridges, air fields, and other strategic targets.

His last of 109 missions was flown on April 12, 1945. His mechanic told him that they replaced 17 wings, three tails, and two engines on his P-47 “Jug” due to combat damage.

He is credited with destroying one German ME-109 in a dogfight, damaging another, and destroying a third that was taking off from an airfield.

Lt. Reese earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for a mission on Feb. 25, 1945 for courage and determination involving severely damaging a key enemy supply line bridge despite his plane being badly damaged by flak.

He also received the Air Medal with 15 oak clusters. His unit received the Presidential Unit Citation. He was honorably discharged Sept. 6, 1945.

On July 4, 2016 on the deck of the Battleship Texas, Lt. Reese was presented France’s medal of Knight in the French Order of the Legion of Honor in recognition of his part in liberating France during World War II.

On May 8, 1948, he married Mary Jo (Joey) Cleeland, a longtime friend and a beautiful, gracious lady.

He went into sales and sales management for most of his career until retiring in 1993 to Martins Mill, south of Canton.

Three children, Bob Jr, Andy, and Dorie were born to the young couple, who in 1963 gave up the cold winters of the north to move to the warmth of Texas.

In 1965, while living in the North Dallas area, Joey came to know Christ as her Savior and this began an influence on him that eventually led him to the Lord as well.

After several relocations, he and Joey made their home in Van Zandt County in 1993, surrounded by family and friends.

From those three children eventually came the gift of 12 grandchildren and 15 greatgrandchildren.

He was known by his constant sense of humor, sparkling blue eyes, and his love of family. His grandchildren consider him a patriarch.

His and Joey’s garden was entrancing, complete with bird feeders and baths, and their home a haven of beauty and peace.

The grandchildren vied for the privilege of a place at their table, one-on-one, with Grammie and Granddad. Whether it was a tea party with delicacies or a roast lamb feast, it was served on their wedding china, accompanied with stories of yesterday and avid curiosity on the part of Grammie and Granddad about their personal hopes and dreams for tomorrow, laced through with delighted laughter and unconditional love.

He was a member of Lakeside Baptist Church, Canton Lions Club, and the Republican Club of Van Zandt County for many years.

Those he loved who went before him include Joey, his wife of nearly 67 years, his parents, and his brothers, Jay Rodney Reese and Joseph Reese Jr.

Those waiting to someday join him in eternity, in God's perfect timing, include his two sons and their wives, Bob, Jr and Connie Reese of Canton and Andy and Lori Reese of Martins Mill, and his daughter and her husband, Dorie and Jeff Hilliard of Canton.

Also, his 12 grandchildren, their eight spouses, and 15 great-grandchildren: Jonathan Reese and wife, Carolyn, with Laurence and Wesley; Rebekah Bartley and husband, Chris with Gracie, Callie, and Millie Jo; Justin Reese and wife, Rachael, with Ethan and Ashton; Cameron Reese and wife, Norma, with Eli, Ava, and Gabe; Ali Reese; Conrad Reese and wife, Tiffani, with Eliot, Emerson, and Francis; Abigail Brantley and husband, Cody, with Sage and Kate; Cassie Spivey and husband, Seth; Savannah Cobillas and husband, Elijah; Harry Reese, Ember Hilliard, and Judah Hilliard. He is survived by his sister-in-law, Nina Reese, of Dallas and numerous nieces and nephews.

The family would like to thank the staff at Azalea Trails Nursing and Rehab Center in Grand Saline for their wonderful care provided to Bob.

He will be missed by so many, but his memory will remain strong and endure for generations. Memorial donations may be made to the Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial, at 1200 S Trade Days Blvd # 600, Canton, 75103 where the family sponsors the U.S. flags that fly over the memorial.