Robert Reeser

"Looking Back"

June 26, 1926 -  March 1, 2016

Robert R. Reeser of Bradenton, FL., formerly of Rome, NY passed away on March 1, 2016. Bob was born in Oneonta, NY on June 26, 1926. He was the son of the late Robert W. and Ethel Finch Reeser of Hamburg, PA.

Bob was educated in Oneonta, NY schools and attended the Citadel before enlisting in the Army Air Force in WWII. After his service he graduated from SUNY Oneonta with a BS in education. He taught in Sydney, Otego and Speculator, NY before coming to Rome in 1957 where he taught in 1981. For many years he was active in aquatics and recreation, coaching at the YMCA in Oneonta, Beach master at Green Lakes State Park, recreation director at Speculator and Inlet. Bob played organ and sang in a small combo throughout central NY. Bob held a MS in education from Syracuse University and studied at various institutions becoming certified as a school district administration.

Bob was a member of Sigma Tau Gamma national social fraternity, Oneida Elks 767, Rome Moose 901, Lee Legion 1794 and various CB organizations.

Bob is survived by the love of his life, Joan Silverman Reeser; daughter, Barbara Bidwell of Camden, NY; Robert W. Reeser of Oswego, NY.; Dr. Marc Dumas of Fairbanks, Alaska; Rabbi Brett Dumas of Jerusalem, Israel; eleven grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

A private burial service was held March 3, 2016.

Arrangements by Toale Brothers Funeral Homes, Sarasota, FL.

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Everyone in all 3 6th-grade classes at Columbus School bragged about their teacher being the best. But I felt privileged to be in Mr. Reeser’s class, over that of Mr. Bowler or Mr. Fleischer. Mr. Reeser was certainly the nicest (or the least scary) of the 3, though he did get a little hot under the collar on rare occasion. Bob DiCaprio reminded me of the time he freaked out on me for disrupting the class on the day JFK was shot. It may have been the only time we saw him cry, which affected many of us deeply, and brought home the gravity of the situation.
I remember him playing in a band at a wedding we went to during the late 60s. I thought he was on the drums, but the blurb you provided said he played organ, so I’m not sure. The other things I remember are that he was a tall skinny guy and a smoker. Most importantly, he was a real nice guy, and I am moved by his recent death. RIP my teacher.  -  Mar 2016 Philip Domenico

I last saw him about 1977. I was teaching in Rome (at Staley) and his wife was a guidance counselor there.  We had an end-of-the year get-together at a faculty member's house and he was there. We had a great conversation and played some lawn game. What a great guy!  I remember that we were organizing a talent show and Mr. Reeser found a drum set somewhere in the building. I was taking drum lessons at the time so he showed me how to play it. He named our group "The Off Keys" and we made a round sign for the face of the bass drum. I can't remember who else was in the group but the show never went on.  - Mar 2016 Robert DiCaprio

The following comments were taken from past  group emails sent by members of the RCR group

I remember every Friday (or maybe it was just some Fridays?) in sixth grade, half the class or more would leave Columbus and go to Catholic school in the afternoon. During that time, I would go over to Mr. Reeser’s class and he’d give me free piano lessons.  He was quite a pianist himself.  – Nov. 11 2009 – Dennis Parrish

Yep, I do...Great guy...played piano all the time...I used to get up and tell jokes about my mother's nose...   That talent show was typical of the fun we had.  Anyone remember when he brought in some buffalo meat for us to try? It was like jerky... Jan 2010  - Joe Mecurio

Oh Joe, I remember this. I really like Mr. Reeser.  I thought he was the coolest teacher.  Phil, when you mentioned Mr. Reeser's class that brought back a memory.  Do you remember the huge talent show he put on and made me sing "Somewhere Over The Rainbow?"  or something like that.  -  Jan 2010 - Saneen Armstrong

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an email of appreciation from Barbara Bidwell (Mr. Reeser's daughter)
April 4 2016

Hi Dennis,

How wonderful hearing from you and your inviting me to your site.  When we moved to the area in 1958, my father came home every day with tales of his job at Columbus--anecdotes that made me wish I were attending elementary school in Rome.  He lived a long, happy and sometimes adventurous life, but I'll touch on a few highlights that parallel my grade school through teen years.  Were he to note these anecdotes, he might call them "Looking Back."

Parents played a huge role in supporting, encouraging and nurturing my dad.  He was so slim that during his beach master days during summers at Green Lakes, the lifeguards nicknamed him "Skinny Atlas."  A number of moms from East Rome often sent him home with Italian meals, and what a treat to experience that first eggplant parm sandwich!  His days spent perfecting trick water skiing in summer and downhill skiing in winter, plus digging divots on golf courses and showing my junior high friends how to do The Twist didn't help him to fatten up, however.

He and his cherished friends, Bill Bowler and Dave Fleishman, were a team of brainstorming instructors and insidious pranksters.  One particular school day, a noxious stench emanated from the front of Dad's classroom.  Before long, Dad was so overcome that he moved to a student desk farther back, and his pupils attempted to bear up under the smell, but they, too, were growing ill.  One volunteered that he believed the vapor was emanating from the teacher's desk.  Dad bravely returned and began opening drawers.  The odor was worsening.  In a bottom drawer, he found an open jar of gefilte fish (carp or whitefish) which, courtesy of Mr. Fleishman, had been ripening to its most fetid effect.  The kids, meanwhile, thought the smell was Dad and he thought it was coming from them.  All apologized to each other, except for Mr. Bowler and Mr. Fleishman, the precursors of "Punk'd."

An incident that still brings tears to my eyes took place one morning before the first bell when Dad entered the main office to find a boy bawling and badly in need of a a handkerchief.  He was being punished because a monitor caught him in the corridor early, and he was bereft--not because he would see the principal--but because he would not be getting his cafeteria breakfast.  In short, he received a hanky and his breakfast.  There's nothing like having a kind adult on your side.

The bus yard was another spot for occasional mischief and mayhem, and where one little miscreant challenged Dad to a contest of wills.  After having exhausted attempts to enjoin the hoodlum to accompany him into the building, Dad picked up the boy, who was kicking and screaming.  The contest ended in a draw:  kid carried into Columbus; Dad bitten on thumb.

In the years following his career in education, Dad continued to learn new things, and learn them he did to the best of his ability.  Often, people would share their expertise with him, and he would pass along his skills to others.  He ceased to play music in public, but built a home music studio and took up landscaping.  He'd be so pleased and proud to see this site, and he would so love to reminisce with you.

Dennis,  your music is ethereal, and I'm adding all to my Playlists.  Thank you so very much for everything. 


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What a beautiful heartfelt letter so well articulated I felt I was there along side him during her fond memories. Thank you Dennis for sharing with me. It so solidifies the positive effects teachers had on us that because of our young age/minds we cannot identify their lasting effects until much later in life. - Susan Sutter

What a beautiful letter!  That just about says it all.  Just to add to the memories, how can anyone forget the kickball games during recess time?  I still remember Mr. Reeser "pitching" the ball to us.  As I look back, that was one reason to want to do well in his class, so that we wouldn't be denied that time.  I still remember the smile on his face as he watched us play. Great memories! - Bob DiCaprio


background music - "left on the altar" written and recorded by dennis parrish 2002

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