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Veteran honored on 100th birthday in Edmonton
By Carol Perkins
The Metcalfe County community honored Robert H. Reece (Bob), the oldest living WWII veteran, on his 100th birthday and for his service to his country with a gathering in the courthouse yard on Friday, June 16, 2023.
To kick off the celebration, Jessica Tucker arrived at his home in a red Mustang convertible to take Bob to her grandfather, Jody Curry's, car lot where Jody had decorated his 100-year-old Model T for Bob to arrive in at the celebration. After a trip around the square, Bob walked a red carpet that had been laid on the sidewalk to his seat of recognition.
Not one to draw attention to himself, Bob was humbled by the number of people present. The program began with a family history told by his niece, Carol Perkins. Bob was born in 1923 to Rufus and Bettie Strange Reece and lived until he was ten in the Cofer/Flatrock area, at which time his parents bought a farm in Edmonton so they could send all their nine children to high school. They all graduated and four earned college degrees. Leon, the oldest, then Russell (who saw many battles in WWII), then Marguerite, Bob, Ralph (whose ship was hit by a suicide bomber in WWII), J.W. (a Korean War veteran), Tommy, Billy (an Army veteran), and Martha. Of those siblings, Marguerite, Billy, and Martha survive.
Donald Walbert shared Bob's military information. Not long out of high school, he joined the Navy. After his basic training at the Great Lakes, he served on a destroyer, the USS Davison, DD-618, which took him to Italy, France, and other parts of Europe. "The only people who understand what happened during the war are the ones who went," he said as he relayed experiences to Donald. Home for a furlough after escorting a convoy back to the States, he married Marjorie Wallace (Gilbert) and once discharged, settled in Metcalfe County. They had two children: Roberta (deceased) and Bobby (retired Edmonton Elementary principal) and four grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.
Donald read a letter from Governor Beshear, Amy Neighbors present an award from the House of Representatives, Judge Larry Wilson read a proclamation from the Fiscal Court stating June 18th would be forever recognized as Robert Reece Day, and Mayor Doug Smith also read a proclamation in his honor. One of the displays that seemed to touch Bob deeply and brought back many memories of that young boy who had joined when he was in his teens was an enlarged picture of his ship.
Bob Reece has spent his life in this community. As a career, he owned and operated a bulldozing business, and when he retired, became a motor vehicle inspector for the state. He is a member of the Edmonton Methodist Church, and although a quiet man, enjoys the company of others. When he learned this event was going to happen, he said, "I hope no one makes me out a hero. The heroes are in the cemeteries." That is true, but the heroes are also the ones left to tell the story.
Surrounded by all his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews, Bob Reece will remember this day and those who made it happen as being one of the most special of his life. Special thanks to all who helped make this happen.
This story was posted on 2023-06-19 08:06:20
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