Reese and two of his cousins integrated Pace Academy in 1969, and he graduated in 1976. After attending Georgia State University, he spent 13 years working in residential real estate in the southwest Atlanta area. His family operated Brown and Reese Realty, one of the first Black-owned residential brokerage firms in Atlanta.
Reese then decided to pursue a legal career, obtaining his law degree from Mercer University in 1996. He first worked as an assistant state attorney general in the regulated industries section. This led him to later specialize as a private attorney in healthcare-related cases.
He would later return to state government, working for the Department of Community Health. In 2010, Gov. Sonny Perdue appointed Reese to head DCH. In that position, Reese traveled the state visiting hospitals and health care providers, taking a particular interest in access to health care in rural Georgia. In 2011, Gov. Nathan Deal appointed Reese as commissioner of the Georgia Department of Human Services.
Five years later, Deal appointed Reese to fill a vacancy on the state Court of Appeals. He was elected to a six-year term that started in January 2019.
“Clyde Reese was a kind, gentle and wise man who spoke when he had something worthwhile to say, not just to say something,” Senior Judge Herbert Phipps said. “The world was a better place with him in it.”
In its announcement, the appeals court said Reese, a 64-year-old resident of Douglas County, had five children and three grandchildren.
In the coming weeks, Gov. Brian Kemp will name Reese’s replacement on the 15-member appellate court.