Mary Evelyn Smith Reese passed away on Monday, April 5, 2021, with family by her side. Mary Evelyn was born in Churchton, Tennessee on April 23, 1922. Her beloved parents were Lady Ruth Herndon and O.K. Smith, who were a light of intellectuality and pure enjoyment. She was preceded in death by both of her parents, her husband Richard H. Reese (Dick), her sister Rose Marie Smith, her baby brother Dr. O. Kay Smith, and her son-in-law Johnny Hayes. Mary Evelyn is survived by her three children, Mary Howard Reese Hayes, Dickie Reese, and Rufus Reese (Vivian), 8 grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren, who were the sparks that kept the fire of life burning within her.
She grew up in Dyer County in West Tennessee. Her father owned several “country grocery stores.” She always held a special place in her heart for West Tennessee and the kindness and patience shown to her as a child and her fond memories of growing up in the store.
Mary Evelyn graduated valedictorian from Trimble High School, attended U.T. Martin, and graduated from U.T. Knoxville with a B.S. degree in home economics. She came to Sumner County as a Home Demonstration Agent. While here, she met and married her husband Dick. At the time, if a woman were married, she could not be a Home Demonstration Agent, so she had to retire. (She was glad that in her lifetime she witnessed this change.)
Mary Evelyn was an amazing woman. When her children started to school, she began teaching elementary classes at Vena Stuart School. She went on to teach home economics at Gallatin High School and then Gallatin Junior High School. Many of her students talked about what a good teacher she was. Mary Evelyn became the first Director of the Sumner County Schools Lunch System. After retiring, she worked at First United Methodist Church of Gallatin.
While working at First United Methodist Church of Gallatin, she heard from members of the community that there was a need for an organization to provides for basic needs—clothing, food, housing, and general support. After hearing this need, she worked to bring a number of churches, individuals, and corporations together to form Gallatin CARES, where she served as a founding board member for many years. In addition to her dedication to public service and her love of teaching, she served as president and vice-president of the Retired Teachers Group.
Her friends and family knew she was always clipping out an article, sending a note with a quote or giving a piece of advice (sometimes unsolicited), and each year for Christmas she would send them Daily Guideposts. As a teacher and a feisty, strong-minded and independent woman, she would want to make sure she got the last word. It is only fitting to share 7 of her personal beliefs and values that guided her for a blessed 98 years.
Mary Evelyn Reese’s Seven Ways to Live a Blessed Life
1. Find something useful to do for someone else. Knit caps for the babies in the hospital, share a cutting of a flower, take a friend to doctor’s appointments, or provide a meal. Make the time to be of service to others, for it will fill your heart with joy and will make you complete.
2. Have a deep and unwavering love for God. Know that He walks alongside you. However, this doesn’t mean that you will not have suffering and pain, but that with God’s guidance and love you can come through difficult situations and still be loving and caring.
3. Be a good friend. “Love One Another as I have Loved You” John 13:34
4. Live a simple life. Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.
5. Work hard, but make time to play and laugh. Mary Evelyn modeled this beginning in high school by playing basketball all 4 years. She also enjoyed painting, gardening, being a fabulous cook, masterful seamstress, playing tennis, golfing, water exercising, knitting, traveling and never being too old to try new things.
6. Have an opinion. Do not be afraid to stand up for what is just and right for yourself and others, but know that sometimes this will mean walking away.
7. Family is important. There are people that came before you and you should honor them. There will be people to come after you and you should prepare for them. We are a part of the great chain of human life!
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Gallatin Cares (330 North Durham Avenue, Gallatin, TN 37066). We also encourage you to adopt Mary Evelyn Reese’s 7 Ways to Live a Blessed Life. This would make her happy and would make the world a better place for all of us.
We would like to extend our sincere thanks to Gallatin Center for Rehabilitation & Healing, Station 1A for their 8 years of loving and caring for Mary Evelyn.
Family and friends are invited to a casual celebration of Mary Evelyn Reese’s life in Sideview at 398 Dry Fork Road South, Gallatin, TN 37066 on Friday, April 23, 2021 from 2 until 4 p.m.
Arrangements Entrusted To: Sumner Funeral & Cremation, Gallatin, (615)452-9059