ODESSA - Jim Reese, (James O'Quinn Reese), passed away peacefully with his family by his side this past Friday, September 15, 2017. A former Mayor of Odessa, Jim was a devoted husband, caring father, proud grandfather, blessed great-grandfather, successful business man, and a loving friend. Jim was born in Comanche County, Texas on December 14, 1929 to Arvil (Fisher) and Mary Louise Reese. Because Fisher worked on the railroad, Jim attended over fifteen schools before finally graduating from Gustine High School at the age of sixteen. He then spent two years at Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas, before transferring to the University of Texas at Austin, where he obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. At the University of Texas, Jim happened upon Jayne Damron while out for a walk and it was love at first sight. Jim and Jayne tied the knot on September 14, 1951 and immediately moved to Evanston, Illinois where Jim completed a Master of Arts from Northwestern University, with a focus on radio and television. From 1953 to 1955 Jim served in the United States Air Force in Tripoli, Libya amongst other locales.
After his discharge from the Air Force, Jim began his broadcasting career at KCBD-TV Channel 11, the NBC affiliate in Lubbock, Texas. He then worked for a number of news stations before moving to Odessa, where he would be a sports anchorman from 1956 to 1964 at KOSA-TV, Channel 7. After eight years, Jim left the station to become a stockbroker at Eppler, Guerin and Turner (EGT). He became a very successful broker, eventually managing the Odessa office. Jim devoted much time to the Junior Chamber International (Jaycees), and was President of the local Jaycee chapter as well as a national vice president. His involvement with the Jaycees eventually led Jim to run for Mayor of Odessa in 1968, winning by a large margin. Throughout his terms as Mayor of Odessa Jim brought many economic and social benefits to the city, including the city's first 911 emergency service, dempsey dumpster trash containers and those large wind resistant traffic light signals you see today. He also played a significant role in bringing the University of Texas-Permian Basin to Odessa. Jim enjoyed a long and successful career in politics, running for U.S. Congress twice as well as the Texas Senate, in addition to serving on the State Republican Executive Committee for many years. Shifting his focus private business in 1982 Jim opened Penatek Industries, a centrifugal casting foundry in Odessa, where he worked until he retired in 2015.
Jim was an extremely talented singer and actor as evidenced by his long time involvement with the Permian Playhouse. He showed his passion and support for the Playhouse by participating in their shows and also helping to raise funds for the permanent Permian Playhouse theater located on 42nd Street in Odessa. He was an avid golfer and played in many golf tournaments throughout the region winning multiple titles including the Muleskinner tournament with his brother-in-law and best friend Sam Damron in Muleshoe. He supported the YMCA of Odessa and helped raise funds for the building and construction of the current YMCA of Odessa located on University Street.
Jim's contributions to television, politics, and business in West Texas were substantial. However, in his own mind, his greatest accomplishment in the community was, in part, a response to he and Jayne having a special needs daughter, Lori Jan. He became involved with the Permian Basin Rehabilitation Center. Not only did he serve on the board of the PBRC, he also hosted the Easter Seals Telethon, benefitting the center, for 35 years. Many years, the Permian Basin telethon raised more money per capita than any telethon in the country. His charismatic personality lifted the spirits of everyone around him and he tirelessly worked to raise money and support for the Rehab Center.
Jim is preceded in death by his parents, his wife Jayne, daughter Lori Jan Reese, sister-in-law Billie Joan Smith and her husband John, sister-in-law Elaine Damron, and son-in-law William Robert (Bill) Rigney.
Jim is survived by his daughter Greta Rigney of Midland and her three sons and their families, Joe Rigney and wife Jenny of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and their sons Sam and Peter, Robby Rigney and wife Alison of Midland and their son Will, and Daniel Rigney and wife Kayla of Midland and their son William. He is also survived by his son James "Rocky" Reese and wife Carol of Horseshoe Bay, Texas and their three daughters and their families, Bethany Gibson and husband Aaron of Andrews with their children, Caroline, Hannah, Natalie and Rhett, their daughter Susan Schultz and husband Tommy of Marble Falls, Texas and their children Parker and Penny, Allison Farmer and husband Justin of Atlanta, Georgia and their children Sarah Kate, James and Wallace - a total of six grandchildren and thirteen great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his brother-in-law and close friend Sam Damron.
Jim was a God-fearing man who was quick to show compassion to strangers and was willing to lend a helping hand to anyone in need. He formed many friendships throughout his years that continue to have an impact on the community to this day. Whether he was regaling a crowd with captivating stories, discussing politics and business from his years of experience, or singing songs by Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, Jim was always the life of any party.
Visitation will be Monday September 18, 2017 from 6-8pm at Hubbard Kelly Funeral Home Chapel 601 N . Alleghany. A Graveside Service will be Tuesday September 19, 2017 at 9:00am. at Sunset Memorial Gardens Odessa, Texas. A service will follow at First Presbyterian church at 10:00am. at 1401 N. Sam Houston Ave. Odessa, Texas.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Permian Basin Rehabilitation Center, 620 N. Alleghaney, Odessa, TX 79761 in Jim's honor.