Mary Ann Reese
September 12, 1941-October 29, 2020
Mary Ann Reese laid down her pen on October 29, 2020. Her purpose on this earth, and in our lives, is now fulfilled. She left her mark along the path she forged for women and kindred journalists who come more effortlessly after.
Mary Ann was born September 12, 1941 in Boise Idaho to Fredrick "Ken" and Hannah Reese, tent evangelists ministering throughout the Pacific Northwest, a childhood that influenced much of her life.
Mary Ann first launched her Journalism career following two years at Boise Junior College. Betty Penson of the Idaho Statesman, interviewed Mary Ann with one question, "When is your birthday?" September 12th, she replied. "Good, a Virgo, you're hired!" Mary Ann made note this is the only time she'd been hired for her astrological sign.
Two years later, Mary Ann was recruited by United Press International and became the first woman journalist in all the UPI bureaus she was assigned to; San Francisco, Phoenix, then to the Boise with her office in the Idaho State Capital. Mary Ann was introduced to Homer Cable, head of Stars and Stripes Armed Forces publication and she was headed to new journalistic adventures in Darmstadt, Germany. In her position at Stars and Stripes, Mary Ann was privileged to interview the likes of Shirley Temple Black, Tom Jones, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Leonard Bernstein, and Diana Rigg. In 1969, Mary Ann transferred to London as the first woman Bureau Chief of Stars and Stripes.
After seven years overseas Mary Ann returned to California and was hired by Sunset Magazine writing about travel opportunities in the Eastern Mohave Desert Recreation Area. In 1983, she pitched the idea of a feature article identifying potential wilderness areas in the West, eventually getting approval from editor, Bill Lane. Leading a diverse team, her 16-page ground-breaking exclusive was published a year later in the May 4, 1984 edition.
Inspired by the monumental task Mary Ann had undertaken, Lane wrote a personal letter to every senator and representative in congress with an attached copy of the Sunset Magazine highlighting her prominent accounting as a rallying cry to act, resulting in multiple outcomes including California Bureau of Land Management officials meeting with Sunset and Mary Ann to discuss land-use planning for the California Deserts. The California Wilderness Act of 1984, a federal law (Public Law 98-425), passed by the United States Congress on September 28, 1984, authorizing an addition exceeding 3 million acres within the state of California to the National Wilderness Preservation System in this multi-leveled effort.
Between 1994 and 1999, Mary Ann completed a BA in American Studies with a Nature & Cultural Diversity Emphasis; an MA in Instructional Technology at San Jose State University; then a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from University of Southern California.
A job opportunity renewed Mary Ann's attraction for the Palouse and Moscow and she jumped into action. She swooped into Idaho, gathered up her mother in Boise, and moved to Moscow, where her only sibling, Nels Reese, and his wife Joyce live. For the next several years, Mary Ann worked at Schweitzer Engineering, the University of Idaho College of Education, and then College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, retiring at the age of 72 as editor for Programs and People, an award-winning magazine for CALS.
She is survived by her brother, David "Nels" Reese and wife Joyce of Moscow, ID, Nephew, Nelson Reese of Park City, Utah, numerous cousins, and dear friends too numerous to mention.
Mary Ann wishes memorials be made to the University of Idaho Retirees Association Scholarship Fund c/o University of Idaho Foundation, 875 Perimeter Drive MS 3143, Moscow, ID 83844-3143. A memorial service will be held at a later date at the 1912 Center.
Published in Idaho Statesman on Nov. 4, 2020.