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Fine arts center founder, director, office holder dies

Funeral services were held Friday afternoon for Carthage resident Bill K. Reece, founder/director of the Smith County Fine Arts Center/Theatre.

Reece, a government leader as well, died Tuesday (January 3) at the age of 72 at TriStar Stonecrest Hospital in Murfreesboro from respiratory distress from COVID.

Reece was a Smith County Commissioner, representing the Carthage District, and former member of the Carthage City Council, having served as vice mayor for a period.

In addition, Reece is a retired art teacher, serving in the Smith County school system.

A Smith County native, Reece was a 1968 graduate of Smith County High School, continuing his education at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Fine Arts in 1974 and went on to study fine arts, studio arts and vocal performance at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro.

Reece’s passion for the arts began at an early age.

It was his studies at ETSU which piqued his interest in theater.

At ETSU, Reece performed as a member of the Patchwork Players and in many community productions.  

Reece returned to Smith County where he was a visual arts teacher for 21 years, twice selected as “Teacher of the Year”.  

During his tenure as a teacher, Reece directed ten Broadway musicals for the Smith County After School Theatre.  

After retiring, he returned to acting at Smith County Fine Arts Center/Theatre’s production of Smoke on the Mountain, playing the role of Burl Sanders.  

Reece was also a narrator in Charlotte’s Web.  

This past fall’s production of Clue On Stage, a Murder Mystery Dinner Show, was one of the theater’s more popular productions, selling out six performances.

Reece was particularly proud of the production because it was the theatre’s first dinner show. 

The Theatre is located on the second floor of the Smith County Historical Courthouse.

Early on in his career, Reece was employed with the Tennessee Department of Safety as  supervisor at the Lebanon Drivers Licensing Testing Center.

In November of last year, Reece was re-elected to his seat on the county commission.

Reece chose not to seek re-election to the Carthage City Council in November.

(See Sanderson Funeral Home obituaries for additional information.)

1 Comment

  1. Tammy Pruitt on January 11, 2023 at 7:59 pm

    He sure will be missed. My kids are missing. I worked at the school and he took care of them. Doing arts went to every school that I can remember. Rest in peace

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