William Kirk ‘Billy’ Reese, 55; Great singer was servant leader

Billy Reese believed he was called to be a leader, and that’s just what he was. A gentle giant, Reese spent his life serving the Atlanta community and his church, St. Paul AME.

“He would help anyone in any way he could,” said family friend Celestine Pratt.

He had a robust and contagious laugh that could be heard from a mile away: “You always knew he was in the building, you could hear his laugh,” said Pratt.

Reese loved making jokes and was a keen debater.

“He was passionate about being a leader,” his niece Corliss Melvin

Ever the optimist, Reese had the rare ability to let negative situations roll off his back, she added.

Throughout his life Reese worked diligently in the community. His efforts included working with his church and Atlanta Voters United, where he registered hundreds of students before the 2012 election.

“He never wanted credit, he believed in doing his part,” Melvin said.

While on the campus of Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University he went beyond his duty as a deputized registrar. He answered students’ questions and educated them on why they should never fail to go to the polls on or before Election Day. He also assisted with tutorial programs for young adults in the community.

“Everything he did, he did it with all his might,” said Melvin. “He wanted to help.”

William Kirk Reese, of Atlanta died Oct. 25 of cardiac arrest while engaged in one of his many service missions at St. Paul Episcopal Church, the neighborhood church in his community. He was 55. A funeral service will be held 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Paul AME Church, 1540 Pryor Road, Atlanta.

“He taught us how to give and what it really means to be a giver,” said Pratt.

He was a gifted singer who was a part of all the adult choirs at his church. His church leadership positions included assistant supervisor of Sunday school, church trustee, and steward and former president and member of the local lay organization.

While some may get discouraged and make excuses, “That did not stop Billy Reese,” Pratt said.

“He never gave up; he kept going,” said Melvin.

Reese is survived by his father, Carlos Reese.

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