ANDERSON — Deacon Mack Reese Sr. was someone who would always follow through with his word.
And more often than not, that word was "help."
Reese died on Nov. 4 at the age of 80, and today at noon his family and friends will celebrate his life at the Anderson Zion Baptist Church he helped to build for more than 50 years.
He was a political and social difference-maker. He worked at Delco Remy for 30 years. He was a member of the United Auto Workers Local 662. He was a leader in the local NAACP. On Sunday, family and friends called him a pillar of the community. He was a stalwart of the local Democratic Party and served as a precinct committeeman for years.
But to his children, he was simply "Dad."
That was the best way his oldest son Mack Reese Jr., could describe him.
"Even with all the other things he did, he was always there to fill that role with us," Reese Jr. said. "He was just a great guy."
In the past few days since his passing, Reese Jr. said he's received calls and spoken to people whose lives were changed by his father. He said he had no idea the impact Dad had made on the lives of so many people in Anderson.
"The more I hear from people, the more I realize just how involved he was. I'm just now hearing about a lot of it," he said. "It makes me feel great."
Friends and admirers have come to Reese Jr. and told him that his father was a father figure to them as well. When he and his three siblings were younger, health problems with his mother, Ida Reese, forced Reese Sr. to fill a lot of parenting roles. He said his father never missed a beat.
"It's unbelievable how much he contributed," Reese Jr. said.
His sister Karen Reese echoed many of those feelings.
"As a father, he was there so much. He was always there at every point of our lives," she said. "He would work and always be involved with so many things, but he would still take us on vacation spots all over the country. He put us through college. We had lots of family time. He was always available to us. There's so much to tell about him."
Karen also said her father instilled strong values in his children from Day 1. He extended those teachings to people he spoke to on Sundays at church. And just as he was always there for his family, he also found ways to be there for friends. James Warner, one of his closest friends, said he and Reese Sr. would spend Sunday mornings drinking coffee and talking about every topic. More than anything, they talked about how they could make a difference.
The two were heavily involved in the Geater Community Center's Thanksgiving Day Committee. Reese Sr. was charged each year with cutting the turkey and providing food for hundreds of poor and hungry people in Anderson. Warner estimated the committee helped feed about 1,200 in 2012.
Warner said Reese Sr. continued for months to work through his terminal illness.
"He was a good guy. If he told you he was going to help you, he'd help you. And that went for anybody," Warner said. "He helped a lot of people, and he was a good friend to me."
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Funeral services for Mack Reese Sr. Today at noon Anderson Zion Baptist Church, 2008 Louise St. Visitation from 10 a.m. to noon