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Obit – Mr. Bill Reece

Retired Smith County educator, Smith County Commissioner and former Town of Carthage Vice- Mayor, Mr. Bill Reece, died at the age of 72 at 11:48 p.m. Tuesday evening January 3, 2023 at the TriStar StoneCrest Medical Center in Smyrna suffering from respiratory distress related to Covid. 

Mr. Reece’s pastor, Rev. Monica Mowdy, officiated at the 1 p.m. Friday afternoon January 6th funeral services from the Carthage Chapel of Sanderson Funeral Home. Burial followed near his mother in the Garden of Gethsemane at the Smith County Memorial Gardens. 

Visitation with the Reece family will be Thursday January 5th from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. and on Friday from 10 a.m. until the services.

Born Billy King Reece at the former Wilson Clinic (now Poindexter Reality) in Carthage on March 11, 1950, he was one of three children, two sons and a daughter, of the late Mathew McDonald Reece who died October 31, 1983 at the age of 71 and Oma Belle Franklin Reece who died October 16, 1992 at the age of 81.

Mr. Reece was preceded in death by his sister, Mildred Ruth Reece Lawson who died at the age of 75 on February 7, 2011 and a nephew, Smith County High School freshman Ricky Lee Lawson, who died accidentally at the age of 16 on May 6, 1975 while assisting with the installation of a Citizens Band Radio antenna at a residence in South Carthage when the antenna came in contact with a high voltage electric line.

Having never married, Mr. Reece was a 1968 graduate of Smith County High School where he excelled in music and was drum major of the “Pride of the Upper Cumberland” marching band his senior year and was selected by his senior classmates as the “Most Talented” young man. 

While a student at S.C.H.S he majored in Science and Social Studies, was a member of the Latin and pep club, was in the school chorus where he served as vice-president his senior year, participated in the spring festival all four years, the fall festival, the junior play, and was a member of the band top ten.

It was stated about his character in the 1968 annual: “Art is the perfection of nature”.

He continued to further his education and in 1974 received his Bachelor Degree in Fine Art from the East Tennessee State University in Johnson City and later in 1998 studied Fine Arts, Studio Arts and Vocal Performance at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro.

He was the founder and created performances for his beloved Smith County Fine Arts Center/Theatre which first was performed at the Smith County High School auditorium and later at the historic Smith County Courthouse.

His first job out of college was with the Tennessee Department of Safety where he was supervisor for the Lebanon Driver’s Licensing Testing Center.

In 1994 he became the instructor for art with the Smith County School System, a career that lasted until his retirement in 2015.

In 2018 he entered the political arena with being elected both as one of the sixth district Smith County Commissioners and also the same year was elected to the Carthage Town Council.

In 2020 he was selected as Vice-Mayor by his fellow council persons under then Carthage Mayor Sarah Marie Smith and in 2022 he again sought to be re-elected to the Smith County Commission where he was again successful.

He did not seek re-election to the Town Council in 2022.

Mr. Reece attended the Carthage United Methodist Church where he sang in the church choir.

His health had begun failing Thanksgiving Day of 2022.

He is survived by his brother, Donald Lee Reece Sr. of the Chestnut Mound Community, a nephew/brother, Harvie (Tommie) Lawson Jr. and wife Evelyn Crawford Lawson of Carthage; three other nephews, Stacy Lawson and wife Tanna of the Chestnut Mound Community, Donnie Lawson and wife Alva (Sissy) of Carthage, Donald Lee Reece Jr. and wife Sabrina of Gordonsville; nieces, Kathy Lawson Marks and husband Joey of Carthage, Crystal Reece Dennis and husband Ricky of Gordonsville, Marian Reece James and husband Ray of the Chestnut Mound Community; sixteen great nieces and nephews and 25 great-great-nieces and nephews.

The Reece family requests memorials to the Smith County Fine Arts Center/Theatre.


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