Randall Dexter Reese, 59, of Oakman, died Friday, July 5, 2013, after a 20-year battle with liver disease.
Given a second chance at life with a liver transplant in 1995, he witnessed his three children graduate from college, walked his daughters down the aisle on their wedding days and welcomed five grandchildren into the world. He accomplished what many never do — he learned to appreciate each day and treasure each moment he was given with his family, friends and strangers who never stayed that way for long.
Born in Memphis, Tenn., he spent his childhood trekking the globe as a “Navy brat.” From Newfoundland to Hawaii, his appreciation for different people grew with each move. He always loved the ocean, and he became a surfer while living in Taiwan, where he earned his Eagle Scout award as a member of the Boy Scouts of America Far East Council at 15. He later joined the B.S.A. Order of the Arrow. The following year, he returned to his roots in Oakman and was elected mayor (for the day) by his classmates at Calhoun High School. He made fast friends with the high school cohort he graduated with in 1972, many of whom remained lifelong companions. He studied business at West Georgia and the University of Georgia.
Throughout his adult life he lived in North Georgia. A generous, openhearted man, Reese never met a stranger, and those around him benefited from his charismatic charm. He attended North Georgia Technical College after his liver transplant to earn a degree in horticulture and landscape design before creating a Japanese maple nursery that brought him in touch with many new friends, including Coach Vince Dooley. He worked on several beautification projects throughout North Georgia, most recently assisting with the restoration endeavor at the Calhoun courthouse. Reese organized benefits for the Gem Theater and promoted local musicians. His love of blues spurned many trips to southern locales. He even took a trip to help with Hurricane Katrina cleanup efforts in 2005 to improve the city where blues was born. His favorite pastimes, however, were playing golf with his father and friends at the Elks Club and spending time goofing off with his grandchildren, who affectionately called him “Wacko” or “Papa.” He spent the last few years of his life with Debbie Callahan Thompson at his side.
He is survived by his parents, Maxwell Dexter and Dorothy Gasaway Reese of Oakman; his sister and brother-in-law, Gwen Reese and Charles Chambers of Dalton; his daughter and son-in-law Rochelle Dorothy and Eric Beckstine of Charleston, S.C., and their children, Piper Alayna, Benjamin Maxwell and Fisher Thomas; his daughter and son-in-law, April Marie and Bucky Sorrow of Athens, and their children, Annika Caroline and Reese Ryan Archer; his son, Randall Dexter Reese Jr. of Oakman; his dogs, Lucy and Toby; and his cats, Chloe, Tom Tom and Katie.
A memorial service celebrating his life will be held Saturday at the Elks Lodge in Calhoun. The ceremony will begin at 2 p.m.
To honor his love of animals, the family asks that donations be made in his honor to the Humane Society of Northwest Georgia, P.O. Box 3946, Dalton, GA 30721 in lieu of flowers.
Thomas Funeral Home in Calhoun is in charge of arrangements.