A state lawmaker who was elected to serve as the Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus chairman in the 2020-21 session has died, the House GOP leader said Saturday.
Rep. Mike Reese, R-Westmoreland/Somerset, “died peacefully with his family by his side Saturday afternoon at Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg following an apparent brain aneurysm,” Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, the Majority Leader, said in a statement also posted on Reese’s official House website and his Facebook page.
“On behalf of the entire House Republican Caucus, I extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the family of Rep. Mike Reese,” Benninghoff said in the statement.
Reese was 42. Reese, first elected to the state House in 2008, served as the House GOP caucus secretary in the 2019-20 session.
“More than a friend to all of us, and one of our caucus leaders, Mike was a devoted husband and father,” Benninghoff said, calling Reese “a model legislator who thoughtfully put his constituents first.”
Benninghoff described Reese, who represented Pennsylvania’s 59th District, as “a model legislator who thoughtfully put his constituents first.”
“I have known Mike since he took office in 2009 and have been proud to witness his many legislative accomplishments, especially his tireless work on behalf of Pennsylvania’s students and families,” the Republican leader continued. “His spirit, presence and counsel will be sorely missed.”
Fellow state Rep. George Dunbar (R), who shared an office with Reese at the state Capitol for about six years, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Saturday that Reese’s passing was “a great loss.”
“Mike was one of my best friends,” Dunbar told the local newspaper. “He was always a family man whose whole life revolved around his three children. He was probably the most respected member of the House.”
“I just spoke to him on New Years Eve. He had just run five miles when we talked, and he was about to take his son out hunting,” he added.
Reese said Dec. 7 he had recently learned that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and had been quarantining for the previous week after learning of his exposure to the virus.
“I recently learned I have tested positive for COVID-19,” Reese said on Dec. 7. “I have been quarantining for the last week awaiting my test results and with the positive test will remain in quarantining until I have recovered. I am grateful to report my symptoms were mild and are subsiding. I’m feeling better as each day passes.”
Reese is survived by his wife, Angela and three children.