Harold D. Reese, 92, helped create Md.'s community colleges

September 21, 2004|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Harold David Reese, a driving force in the creation of Maryland's community colleges, died of a stroke Sept. 14 at Blakehurst Life Care Community in Towson, where he had lived for nearly a decade. He was 92.

He was an early advocate for a network of locally controlled colleges within short commuting distance of most students, a system to offer post-high school vocational training as well as affordable higher education.

Dr. Reese saw them sprouting as evening programs in high schools as well as at new, dedicated campuses. And he envisioned them as places where thousands of military personnel discharged in the 1960s and looking to take advantage of the GI Bill could further their education.

"He was a leader in the early development of the state's community college system," said Fred Spigler, a former gubernatorial education adviser who helped lay the groundwork for the founding of Carroll Community College. "One of the things he was pretty instrumental in was to broaden the community colleges' outreach to adult learners in the community, not just high school" students.

Then-Gov. Marvin Mandel honored Dr. Reese in 1976 "for significant contribution to the advancement of education in Maryland" in a certificate of distinguished citizenship.

Dr. Reese was born in Mount Carmel, Pa., and earned bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees in education from Pennsylvania State University.

A lieutenant in the Navy during World War II, he taught gunnery and also served in the Philippines.

Returning to Pennsylvania, he taught mathematics at Muhlenberg College in Allentown and Drexel University in Philadelphia before being named director of teacher education at what is now Frostburg State University.

In 1955, he began a 20-year career with the Maryland State Department of Education. He retired as assistant director of the Office of Higher Education in 1975.

He was active in Masonic organizations in Maryland and Pennsylvania for more than half a century. He was a 32nd-degree Mason in the Scottish Rite, and a member of Boumi Temple in Baltimore, Cedar Lodge in Mount Carmel, Jerusalem Council No. 2, St. John's Royal Arch Chapter, the Phoenix Royal Arch and Monumental Commandery No 3.

He traveled extensively in Europe, the South Pacific, China and the United States in the past quarter-century, and beginning in 1975 -- when he bought a piano -- Dr. Reese took lessons and played for several hours a day.

He oversaw restoration of a historic house in Westminster in 1981, then built a home near the historic area of Williamsburg, Va., where he lived for eight years before returning to the Baltimore area in 1992.

Dr. Reese's wife of 20 years, the former Ruth Burrowes, died in 1962.

He had been married since 1965 to the former Eleanor Canton, former executive director of the Maryland Board of Nursing. The couple moved to Blakehurst in 1995, and Dr. Reese wrote numerous articles for the Blakehurst Banner, a community newsletter.

Services were held Thursday in Towson.

Survivors also include a son, James David Reese of San Bernardino, Calif., and a daughter, Linda Jean Reese Ray of Ashburn, Va.

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