Cover photo for Wayne Reese's Obituary
Wayne Reese Profile Photo
1929 Wayne 2018

Wayne Reese

January 28, 1929 — July 9, 2018

Joseph Wayne Reese's life has come "full circle". Born January 28, 1929 in Whitley County, Indiana, he spent the first 10 years of his life on the farm in Troy Township and in 2003 was able to return to his birthplace and passed away there on July 9, 2018.

Wayne was a great outdoors person - an excellent fisherman who didn't wait long for the fish to bite - he searched them out. Hunting mushrooms since he was a kid made him an expert at finding even the tiniest ones and he would tell you that he could actually "smell" them. As a young boy, enjoyed hunting rabbits and pheasants. He and his sister picked berries in the woods so his mom could make her delicious pies. All these he did while living on the farm as they survived off their land.

On the farm in Union Twp. while helping his dad plow with a horse, they found many arrowheads as the farm was near the Eel River in Miami Indian land. He trapped along the river for spending money in high school - having to run the traps before going to school. As a result of this he often fell asleep during "lecture" time at basketball practice- hence getting the name "Sleepy Reese". While playing basketball, he developed a lifelong friendship with Roger Wait. He also enjoyed playing softball also as he attended Coesse School, graduating in 1947. He went on to further his education at Indiana University.

He had a special bond with all his dogs his entire lifetime. His first dog, "Skipper", a German Shepherd, was his hunting buddy, and he said when company came in the front door, he and Skipper would go out the back door to hunt. When Wayne left to serve in the U.S. Army in Korea to help set up communications, Skipper left and never returned- probably trying to find his buddy.

All his dogs were buddies with him and all dogs seemed to feel his gentleness for them. There was "Marla", a big German Shepherd, "Sporty" was rescued from the police pound, "Kelly" another German Shepherd, then came "Chester" who ended up having a pup named "George". George was a big lanky dog who always waited at the bathroom door for Wayne to run the shaver over his head. "Lucille" who had several litters of pups, with 13 at one time. Then came "Sheba", a large black European Shepherd who intimated all who stopped by, but she was a "gentle giant". She would break out of windows, swim out to middle of lake while he was fishing or anything to be with her pal Wayne. She and Lucille were regular riders in the truck with him. "Queenie", the black and white Border Collie was with him for 15 years and a constant companion. After her death, he needed another dog, so his daughter Melody gave him her dog, "Max" who proved to be a great comfort and companion during Wayne's illness. After Max, he enjoyed Melody's 2 other Border Collies, "Target" and "Heidi Marie", both often lying in bed with him.

He had worked for Phelps Dodge, U.S. Rubber Co. and Capehart Farnsworth (ITT) before becoming an Indiana State Trooper, with his first year in Indianapolis and the rest of his service in Whitley County. He was a very dedicated and fair police officer. Many persons remembered being stopped by him and his courteous manner. He even met his wife Kathaleen Tigner on US 30 where he patrolled as she often ran out of gas on her way to Coesse. The two would go on to be married on June 2, 1957 at Grace Lutheran Church in Columbia City. In his career, Wayne was promoted to Sergeant and was in charge of motor vehicle inspection in Northern Indiana. He retired in 1978 with 25 years of service and would be the Town Marshall for South Whitley until 1980.

His first house was on Little Cedar Lake, where he could just walk out the door and go fishing, including ice fishing when he got off duty.

His daughter, Melody, was his pride and joy from the time she was born until his final day. She was always "daddy's little helper", picking tomatoes, hunting mushrooms, doing "fix it" jobs, etc. She and her dad had a very special bond. She enjoys mushroom hunting to this day and is a very good "fix it" person now because of Wayne.

After 10 years at Tri Lakes, the family moved in 1967 to South Whitley to have more area for the Reese Trailer Sales that he and Kathaleen operated for 15 years. He did a great job of wiring all the cars without prior training and could back a trailer anywhere you wanted it. He and Kathaleen worked as a team to make the Reese Trailer Sales a success. His pleasant personality and fairness served him well meeting customers- some becoming lasting friends.

Following his retirement from the State Police, he also started Reese Security Service out of Warsaw. He and his daughter Melody operated it in Whitley and Kosciusko Counties for 25 years.

When a farm in Etna Troy Township was for sale in 1972, he remembered fishing in the lake on that farm with his dad years ago- so immediately bought it. It was a dream come true for him with a 17 acre, 30' deep lake on it full of blue gills and bass and a place to have a big garden and raise his wonderful potatoes. He planted enough garden to feed all of Whitley County. This place was his "Shangri La" and owned it up until his health forced him to sell it in 2004, but he had lifetime fishing privileges there.

After 35 years in South Whitley, he had the opportunity to buy 24 of the 40 acres where he was born. He was thrilled to be back "home" and fish both Tadpole and Rine Lake as he did when he lived there. The pasture land where he used to take the cow to the spring for water was all grown up in woods, but he found what was left of the pipe coming out of the ground where the spring had been and even the old bucket he used. He remembered so much about his 10 years on this place, helping his dad farm, do repairs on the old barn, swimming, fishing, hunting and raising pickles. He even remembered "Rosebud Slim" camping on their farm by Tadpole Lake.

A member of Zion Lutheran Church and Fraternal Order of Police, Wayne also was an avid I.U. basketball fan and never missed a game on TV.

Wayne was a survivor after having a malignant brain tumor, surgery, radiation and chemo in 2005 but still was able to enjoy working on his homeplace until a stroke in 2015 set him on a downward spiral until his final days. He was able to look out from his bed and enjoy his beautiful home place was at peace having come "Full Circle".

Life will never be the same for his family after he passed away at 6:15 p.m. on Monday, July 9, 2018. He is survived by his loving wife of 61 years, Kathaleen Reese; daughter, Melody Reese; son-in-law, Pavel Lukes; great-granddaughter, Lucy Lukes; several special nieces and nephews; and granddogs, Target and Heidi Marie. He was preceded in death by his parents; sisters, Millie Wood and Lucille Secrist; brother, Charles Faulstick; and nephew, Ricki Wood.

Visitation is 3-7 p.m. Thursday, July 12, 2018 at DeMoney-Grimes, a Life Story Funeral Home, 600 Countryside Drive, Columbia City. Funeral services will be 10 a.m. Friday at the funeral home. Pastor David Easterday will be officiating along with his niece, Gladdie Barnett giving the eulogy. Burial will follow at South Whitley Cemetery. Memorial gifts may be given in his memory to Clancy's Dream, Boarder Collie Rescue, ; the Humane Society of Whitley County; or donor's choice. Visit to send Wayne's family condolences online.


DeMoney-Grimes a Life Story Funeral Home
600 Countryside Drive Columbia City, Indiana 46725

3:00 PM - 7:00 PM


DeMoney-Grimes a Life Story Funeral Home
600 Countryside Drive Columbia City, Indiana 46725

10:00 AM
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