Willard 'Will" Reece, 89, a retired long time Newport-Mesa Unified School District principal and a lifetime Rotarian, passed away peacefully of natural causes in his Newport Beach, CA home on March 6, 2013. Born in Boise, ID in 1923 as the third son of Paul and Ruth Reece, the Reece family relocated to Inglewood, CA in the mid 1920’s and eventually settled in the city of Huntington Park.
Will was a graduate of Huntington Park High School in 1941 and joined the U.S. Army Air Corps on December 7, 1942 along with several of his high school classmates. Upon completion of basic training, Will was stationed in the European Theater as an Air Corp "weatherman" in France, Germany and Austria for the remainder of World War II. Upon his return stateside, Will and several high school classmates attended the University of California Santa Barbara where in addition to his studies, he took up the game of golf and developed a lifetime passion for the sport. He then transferred to the University of Southern California. While at USC, Will obtained both undergraduate and graduate degrees and was a life long USC Trojan fan and supporter.
In April 1948 Will married Gloria Jean Gilbert and they were married for over 51 years until Gloria's death in 2000.
Will served the Newport-Mesa Unified School District for 28 years starting in 1955 as Principal at McNally Elementary School, followed by stints at Mesa Verde and Bear Schools. He then served as Middle School Principal at both TeWinkle and Horace Ensign, and finally at Sonora Elementary school until his retirement in 1983. His enthusiasm and concern for students and faculty earned him respect and appreciation from each of the schools he was affiliated with. Will also received the Paul Harris Fellow Rotarian Award for his years of faithful service and as past president of the Costa Mesa Rotary Club.
Will was a devoted son, brother, husband, father, grandfather "papa", great grandfather and a friend to all who knew him. All will miss his smile and kind words!
Predeceased by his first wife, Gloria Jean Reece, in January 2000 and by his second wife of 11 years, Dorothy Ann Silva, in January of 2013. He is survived by his older brother, Keith Reece of Eau Claire, WI and his younger sister Shirley Rose of Aliso Viejo, CA. In addition, Will is survived by his four children, Stephen Reece of Springfield, VA, Dale Reece of Vanderwagen, NM, Jan Ford of Newport Beach, CA, and Jeffery Reece of Durham, NC who together have provided ten grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.
A Celebration of Life will be scheduled in the future.