Edith Joanne Reese of Roanoke died Oct. 28

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After 28,260 days on this planet (more than 77 laps around the Sun), Edith Joanne Reese of Roanoke passed away peacefully at home on the afternoon of Monday, Oct. 28, 2019, with her husband of 54-plus years and their son and daughter at her side. Edith’s organic and volatile atoms and molecules will be liberated for other purposes on the planet. Her mineral remains will be scattered at various locations significant to her and her family. We take solace that she is at rest with Him in new eternal life.

Surviving are her husband, Ron Reese of Roanoke; their children, Daniel Austin Reese and his wife, Angela, of Minneapolis, Minn., and Anna-Loren Reese Clark and her husband, Jordan, of Charlotte; grandchildren, Owen Matthew Reese (age 5) and Evan Patrick Reese (age 3); several in-laws and outlaws; and many good friends.

With cheerfulness, fortitude, and dignity she survived two massive hemorrhagic strokes about five years ago that left her confined to a wheelchair or bed and dependent on others for all her needs at home. Her warm smile and large bright brown eyes charmed many, despite her circumstances.

The family wants to express their appreciation to all caregivers who helped her husband, Ron, attend to her needs in her final years, particularly Shenandoah Chism, Sara Nelson, Melody Dempsey, LaShawnna Wright, Brittany Richie, Sarah Akins, and Mia Stewart. Friends Steb Lindsey, Linda Akers, Karen Swan, Ned Wisnefske, and Pastors David Skole and Cindy Keyser of Christ Lutheran Church visited her weekly or monthly for many years after her strokes. More distant friends also visited her occasionally in person and/or via FaceTime. Anyone who ever met Edith never forgot her contagious vivacious personality and zest for life. Over the years, we appreciated receiving hundreds of cards, letters, and calls of encouragement from friends in Roanoke, around the country, and overseas. We thank you all for your kindnesses to her and us.

Edith was educated at Middlebury and Barnard colleges, earning a bachelor’s degree in Soviet Area Studies. At one time she could speak and write six languages. She earned a master’s degree in Economic Geography at The Johns Hopkins University specializing in location theory, especially retail and industrial park location. Her early professional life entailed considerable air travel. She was in the forefront of getting smoking banned on commercial flights.

Edith was a devoted mother with an attentive ear and sage, frank advice; you always knew where you stood with her. Edith’s “from scratch” cooking skills produced the world’s best granola, legendary ginger snap cookies and Swedish pancakes, and entrées that are heirlooms.

With a wit as quick as her walk, she always had a good question ready and would embark upon meticulous research into anything that piqued her curiosity.

Edith was devoted to God, her faith, and lived her Lutheran beliefs. She was proud of her Swedish heritage. She spent many years helping new refugees to the United States get established in the Roanoke Valley, especially in the Laotian community, and is fondly remembered by them. She fostered and sponsored several families for citizenship as new Americans.

In her younger days, she was an avid and fearless whitewater tandem canoeist with her husband and dear friends, Chuck and Charlotte Gilmore. An excellent skier and a great day-hiker, she left backpacking for others to enjoy.

Her interest in recycling and litter pickups along rivers, highways, and trails began while she was in graduate school in the 1960s and continued throughout her life. She was dubbed by many the “Queen of Recycling.” In all her endeavors she was known as a vigorous “crusader,” pedal to the metal, full steam ahead, no stone left unturned. Her enthusiasm was magnetic.

A celebration of her beautiful, inspirational, and exemplary life will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7, at Christ Lutheran Church, 2011 Brandon Avenue, SW, Roanoke, VA 24015.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in her memory to the Pastor’s Discretionary Fund for the Poor, Christ Lutheran Church, 2011 Brandon Avenue, Roanoke, VA 24015; to Godparents for Tanzania, P.O. Box 20221, Roanoke, VA 24018 (www.godparents4tz.org), or to a charity of your choice.

Arrangements are by Oakey’s Roanoke Chapel, Roanoke, (540) 982-2100. Online condolences may be expressed at www.oakeys.com.


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