Pennsylvania state Rep. Mike Reese (R), who in November was reelected to a seventh term in the state House, died Saturday afternoon of an apparent brain aneurysm. He was 42.
According to a statement from Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R), Reese, who was elected to serve as the Republican caucus chairman for the 2020-2021 session, “died peacefully with his family by his side” at Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg, Pa.
“On behalf of the entire House Republican Caucus, I extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the family of Rep. Mike Reese,” Benninghoff said in the statement.
“More than a friend to all of us, and one of our caucus leaders, Mike was a devoted husband and father,” he continued. “His wife, three young children and extended family are in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”
Benninghoff described Reese, who represented Pennsylvania’s 59th District, as “a model legislator who thoughtfully put his constituents first.”
“I have known Mike since he took office in 2009 and have been proud to witness his many legislative accomplishments, especially his tireless work on behalf of Pennsylvania’s students and families,” the Republican leader continued. “His spirit, presence and counsel will be sorely missed.”
Mike was a devoted husband and father. His wife, three young children and extended family are in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. https://t.co/rMfgceu1rV
— Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (@RepBenninghoff) January 2, 2021
Fellow state Rep. George Dunbar (R), who shared an office with Reese at the state Capitol for about six years, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Saturday that Reese’s passing was “a great loss.”
“Mike was one of my best friends,” Dunbar told the local newspaper. “He was always a family man whose whole life revolved around his three children. He was probably the most respected member of the House.”
“I just spoke to him on New Years Eve. He had just run five miles when we talked, and he was about to take his son out hunting,” he added.
According to Johnstown, Pa.-based newspaper The Tribune-Democrat, Reese contracted COVID-19 in early December, saying in a statement at the time that his symptoms were mild.
“I recently learned I have tested positive for COVID-19,” Reese said on Dec. 7. “I have been quarantining for the last week awaiting my test results and with the positive test will remain in quarantining until I have recovered. I am grateful to report my symptoms were mild and are subsiding. I’m feeling better as each day passes.”