Maxwell Dexter Reese, 91, finished his final watch Sunday, November 15, 2020.
He was born to the late Lonnie Dempsey and Laura Walker Reese.
After a military life trekking the globe, he and his family returned to his native Gordon County, Georgia.
He enjoyed fine things – good food, good drinks, good friends, golf and Georgia football. Max was old salt. He was proud to serve our Navy for more than 22 years. He crossed the pond many times and he shared his memories with all who’d listen. His sea stories were often humorous and vivid, with wistful undertones of life at sea.
He served in the Pineapple Fleet, fought in the Korean War aboard a tin can (destroyer) and protected American interests in the Mediterranean. His final shore duty assignment landed Max and his family in Kaohsiung, Taiwan where he ran the Naval exchange and acey-deucy recreational clubs for men on liberty.
He had a second career after he swallowed the anchor with Regent Mills as HR Director, and then with ConAgra, where he represented the Northwest District poultry growers. Max was first-rate. He worked hard at everything and took care of what he had. The home he built on his mountain is full of modest treasures gifted to his wife and children collected from exotic ports of call from around the world. The Volvo he drove proudly sports a 300,000 high mileage club emblem. A kitchen table he built still serves family dinners after 60 years.
He was the life of the party – entertaining, gregarious and just plain fun. He was proud of his children, grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. He kept nearly every drawing and letter they sent him, lovingly stored in numerous scrapbooks. He could fashion the best cane pole for taking to the creek and dream the biggest make-believe stories with his grandchildren down the yellow-brick road he made for them. He was the best fan you could ever have.
He was altruistic. Moving his family every two to three years meant relocating family pets as well, which was not always easy or inexpensive. But pets were family, so they always followed along. A handwritten ledger from the 1960’s shows a splurge for a subscription to Time magazine and National Geographic. These are things he cared about – the natural world and the human forces working within it. His worldly knowledge made him the king of crossword puzzles. His dictionary is well worn. His vocabulary and locution would rival an English professor and he could recite poetry from memory. He credited his love of words to a one room schoolteacher he had from the first through fifth grades. He loved watching the seasons change from atop his hill and making his autumnal trips down the road to gather apples for his wife’s famous fried apple pies. He enjoyed music – everything from Chuck Berry to Eric Clapton to his grandson’s concerts.
Max invested in things that mattered and didn’t waste time on what didn’t. He was steady and certain - even when things weren’t. You could count on him in any crisis for sage and comforting advice; he would assess and break down the situation into manageable parts.
He was voted best looking in his senior class. He’d humbly admit it was a small class, but he certainly delighted in this acknowledgement. Anyone who’s met him would agree – he had a way about him. A calming smile and sincere eyes. When on the golf course or around town, you could spot him in a crowd sporting one of his many signature ivy caps or fedoras. Later in life he developed the wrinkles we strive for – laugh lines – the truest indicator of a life well-lived.
He had sadness, too. He and his two brothers lost their mother and two sisters when he was only 8. Later, he had to bury his son who was his best friend and greatest golf partner.
He often exclaimed to his beautiful wife, “how did two Georgia crackers have such great kids and grandchildren?” It’s an easy answer: They learned from you.
Max was patriotic and loved his country - with his daughter’s assistance he received a mail in ballot and pledged his final vote in this historic 2020 election. He was so thrilled when it was validated as received and counted.
His life was simple, full and very good.
He is preceded in death by his wife of 69 years, Dorothy Gazaway Reese and his son Randy Reese.
He is survived by his daughter, Laura Gwen Reese and Chuck Chambers, of Dalton; grandchildren, Rochelle and Eric Beckstine, of Charleston, S.C.; April and Bucky Sorrow, of Athens; and Randy and Heather Reese, of Oakman. And, seven great-grandchildren: Piper, Annika, Max, Reese, Fisher, Ada and Donovan. He spent his final time with an amazing caregiver, Angie Thomas.
A visitation will be held for family and friends at Thomas Funeral Home, Calhoun, on Thursday, November 19, from 3 to 4 p.m. A private graveside service will follow with Dr. Bert Vaughn officiating.
To honor his love for animals, donations in his honor can be made to the Humane Society of Northwest Georgia.
You may leave the family online condolences at www.thomasfuneralhomecalhoun.com
Thomas Funeral Home has proudly been entrusted with the care of Maxwell Dexter Reese.