Dr. William A. Reese II (“Professor Bill”), born on January 3, 1947 in Texas City, Texas, died at 73 years on June 3, 2020, in Augusta, Georgia.
Bill died of complications from a double whammy—lung cancer and COPD. Bill, who loved baseball, would appreciate the analogy between fighting each disease and using up the entire game (consisting of 27 outs) in the attempt to score a run off of Sandy Koufax for 8 innings and Mariano Rivera to close things off in the ninth inning.
Bill grew up in Texas City where he graduated from Texas City High School in 1965. He then went to Southwestern University, University of Texas, Austin and the University of Houston where he graduated with a B.S. in Psychology in 1970.
After graduation, Bill worked for Shell Oil, but never stopped loving academia. In 1976, he left the corporate world to enroll as a Graduate Student in the University of Houston’s Sociology Program. After earning his MA in Sociology in 1978, he entered the Sociology Program at University of Arizona, earning his Ph.D. in 1982.
He worked as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at Texas Christian University, 1981-89 before being hired by Augusta College (now Augusta University) in the fall semester of 1989. He retired from Augusta University in 2018.
During his academic career Bill made over 30 presentations at National and Regional Sociology and Criminology Meetings and published over 40 journal articles, book chapters, reports in professional Journals, trade books, and institutionally supported monographs. Augusta University recognized Bill’s scholarship by awarding him as the Louis K. Bell Alumni Research Scholar in 1995. Bill was also a finalist for Augusta University’s Outstanding Faculty Member Award in 2006.
In addition to a superlative record of scholarship at Augusta, Bill also served the University in numerous ways. He selflessly gave of his time as the University Advocate during the consolidation of Augusta State University and Georgia Health Sciences University. He was also instrumental in creating the Criminal Justice (CJ) Degree within the Department of Sociology at Augusta University. Currently, this CJ Degree is now the largest major in the Department of Social Sciences. Further, his work for faculty on shared governance workgroups and faculty and college councils made him one of the most endearing advocates among all faculty at Augusta University. Bill did all he could to stand up for faculty, often working through the night for days on end.
As beloved as Bill was by his colleagues, he was even more loved by his students. While students regarded his courses as rigorous and difficult (as one put it, his courses “were not cakewalks by any means”) these same students have testified that Bill challenged them and changed their lives for the better. He helped many to believe in themselves and to see that they had what it took to pursue graduate school or other important dreams.
To paraphrase one of his longtime friends, Bill’s booming baritone voice, way with words, and Texas City drawl will roll around in our heads for as long as we live. But what we all know about death is that as vivid as we can remember a person (and that person’s voice), we cannot replace him or her. We miss the spontaneity of the deceased person’s mind and wit. Bill often surprised many of us. In so doing, he taught us in more ways we can describe. He cannot do that anymore, but as his students have noted, he did encourage all of us to surprise ourselves—to take advantage of all 27 outs that we have before the closer gets the last one.
Outside of his academia life, Bill led a full life, traveling in his Dream RV with his beloved wife, Lynn and fur baby, Angus. He also loved woodworking. He prioritized his family, by almost never missing an important event in his children’s, grandchildren’s, or beloved cousins’ lives. This meant he flew into Texas multiple times per year. His cousins were like his siblings, since he was an only child, and he especially loved his Aunt Gloria, after whom he named his daughter. He was an extraordinary man with a remarkable devotion to his family. An exemplarily man, he never missed a chance to visit friends in the hospital or on their deathbed and made sure to attend their celebrations of life. He was a devoted and loyal friend and a friend to the end.
Bill is survived by his wife of 33 years, Lynn Weide Reese, his daughter Gloria Lauryn Reese Henderson (Steve), his son, William III (Marisa) grandsons Alex and Andrew, and granddaughter Alyssa.
Funeral services will be held 1:00 p.m., Friday, June 12, 2020 with a visitation from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m., at Emken-Linton Funeral Home in Texas City. Burial will follow at Forest Park East Cemetery.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic seating will be limited. If you plan to attend the service, please use healthy judgement, masks, and proper social distancing. Our prayers are that everyone stays healthy and safe in these uncertain times.
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