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5641 Highway 90 West
Milton, FL 32583
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Walter H. Reese


1925 - 2019
Walter H. Reese Obituary
Walter H. Reese

Sept. 8, 1925 - Sept. 12, 2019

BUCHANAN, MI - CAPT Walter H. Reese, USN (Ret), passed away peacefully in Milton, Florida, on the 12th of September.

Walt was born in September 1925 in Buchanan, Michigan to Walter A. and Alvina Geminder Reese. He met his future wife, Mary Margaret McNeal, in 1942 when they were seniors at Buchanan High School. Shortly after Walt got his wings, he and Mary were married on June 23, 1946 in Buchanan at a ceremony performed by Mary's father. They were married for almost 72 years when she passed away in April 2018.

Walt and Mary had three boys, Steve, Chuck and Bob. Walt shared with his boys and larger family his love of God, love of the outdoors, and his commitment to caring for every community that he was ever part of. His boys were brought up learning and absorbing these same values: Church, more than Church but also Church activities; school and education - learning; there was no questioning the importance Dad placed on these things. It happened in Boy Scouts, hunting and fishing, exploring every outdoor opportunity, “let's go try this…”, and, “I think we can build this!” Almost every place Dad and Mom found to live due to our Navy “moves” was on the water - and not “downtown.” Dad took his family on a bazillion trips and activities. As a dad, grandfather, great-grandfather, and uncle he was the best advocate his family could ever have.

Walt and Mary traveled widely, and often. Their children and their family were their priorities. Children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews, it did not matter where they were or what time of year - that is where you would find them. He and Mary came to every significant family event: births, graduations, Eagle Scout ceremonies, weddings, you name it. Of course, as often as not, family would flock to their home in Milton, Florida. Travels took them to Navy League meetings and Hurricane Hunter reunions in all corners of the United States. Travels with church delegations, to see friends, and for the sheer joy of it, took them to many countries and continents.

Walt was a 30-year career Naval Aviator with 12,600 hours of flight time, followed by 11 years of teaching as the Senior Naval Science instructor at the Milton High School NJROTC unit. After retirement he was active in the Navy League, holding offices at local and national levels, advocating on behalf of the maritime services to members of government at all levels - local, regional and national. He was a Naval Academy Blue and Gold Affiliate for this area. He found great joy in mentoring the young men and women of the NJROTC unit and active duty service members, strongly encouraging them to believe in themselves.

He was an active elder, teacher, choir member, youth advisor and much more in the Presbyterian Church for many years, with service in the local area and regionally as well as trips to connect with Presbyterian churches overseas, including South Africa, Kenya, Thailand, and China.

He gave countless hours of volunteer efforts to the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce (twice honored as their “Man of the Year”), The Boy Scouts of America, Sunrise Kiwanis of Santa Rosa (Aktion Club, Terrific Kids, Relay for Life), The ARC of the Emerald Coast, Santa Rosa Clean Community and Santa Rosa Rivers Cleanup, Blackwater River Foundation, and apologies to all those not listed!

His faith and practice spanned his life. He recognized the accomplishments of others wherever he served, and partnered with others to make a positive difference in the world. He was an educator and life builder wherever he saw the chance. He was a generous and determined man of faith, family man, mentor, advocate, friend, servant leader - a “life force,” and “fishing buddy.” Even through the challenges brought on by his failing health he remained fiercely positive and always had a smile for any visitor. He brought a can-do attitude to everything he did.

Walt is survived by his sister, Joyce Stombaugh of Buchanan, MI; his three sons and their wives, Steve and Diana, Chuck and Marcy, and Bob and Beth, 7 grandchildren, and 6 great-grandchildren. He will be deeply missed by all who knew him and most especially by his family. His words are the best conclusion, “Our prayer at home is Love. And that is enough.”
Published in South Bend Tribune on Oct. 9, 2019
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