It’s is safe to say that without Lowell Reese The Kentucky Gazette would not exist in its current form, if at all. The Gazette, the journalistic community, and the Commonwealth are lesser for his passing.
Lowell Reese 1940-2016
Lowell D. Reese, 76, of Frankfort, died peacefully April 15, 2016. He is survived by his beloved wife of 46 years, Carol Rowe Reese, and son, Tracy Huffman (Conny), and grandson, Luke, of Frankfurt, Germany, and by a sister, Linda (Ermel) Mullins, and a host of nieces and nephews. Lowell was predeceased by his parents Palmer and Ollie Reese, three sisters and one brother.
Lowell was born March 12, 1940, and grew up in a coal camp in Pike County. He graduated from Hellier High School and earned a BA in history from Berea College.
After college, he volunteered for the U.S. Army and served proudly in Vietnam as a Lieutenant in the 1st Infantry Division, known as The Big Red One. Lowell was wounded in combat, and earned the Purple Heart and was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge.
Upon returning from service, Lowell worked for Mobil Oil, then began a career in the “Chamber business,” as he called it, and was chief lobbyist for the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, then president of the state Chambers in South Carolina and Arizona.
Lowell also served as the Kentucky state director of President Gerald Ford’s 1976 re-election campaign, and four years later was an architect of U.S. Rep. Hal Roger’s first election to Congress, which we now view as part of the vanguard that shifted Kentucky politics from blue to red.
In 1990, Lowell started Kentucky Roll Call, a public affairs publishing house, and in 1995 he restored The Kentucky Gazette, the commonwealth’s first newspaper, which began publication in Lexington in 1787. His meticulous reporting and solid writing drew the respect of the audience he served; he was not afraid to chase any story.
Work is only a part of the legacy Lowell leaves to his family and friends. He was kind and generous – always making time for a long Friday afternoon chat in his office, door open, birds chirping in the yard ¬– and he was just and strong, patient in explaining things to others, with sharing his deep knowledge and life experience. Lowell was a conservative and believed in the fiscal values of the party, but he never judged others for their beliefs and never thought he was better than someone else. He had a great sense of humor and a hearty laugh.
Lowell’s legacy also is found in those of us who were lucky enough to have him as a teacher and a mentor. He taught us to be fair and kind and generous, to stand up for our principles, and to always treat others with dignity. He taught us to dream, and then he launched us into our own success. He was passionate about Kentucky and about making the state a better place, and his presence made it so.