ROCK SPRINGS– Robert “Bob” Jenkins Reese, 72, of Rock Springs passed away February 7th, 2020. Bob was born June 2nd, 1947 to William and Elsa Reese in Lovell, Wyoming.
The Reeses moved their growing family to Casper, and Bob was a proud graduate of NCHS class of 1965. Bob was incredibly intelligent, and it showed early.
After graduating high school and the Phillips Exeter Academy, Bob earned a scholarship to Harvard University. While at Harvard, Bob developed a passion for social justice and equality. He was a vocal protestor against the Vietnam War and racial inequality.
Bob graduated from Harvard in 1969 with a degree in Economics. Unsure of his next step, he moved to Washington, DC and held several jobs including DC cabbie and special education teacher. Bob found another one of his passions while in DC: rugby. He was an avid (and excellent) rugby player for the next 15 years.
Bob loved Wyoming, and he eventually found his way back in the 70s working on the railroad. He enrolled at the University of Wyoming School of Law in 1975, mostly to continue playing rugby.
However, he quickly learned that his passion for justice and the law were a perfect match. After graduating with a Juris Doctor in 1978, Bob worked at different times for the state as both a prosecutor and defense attorney. His legal career eventually led him to Sweetwater County, where he lived for 40 years.
Bob had a successful private practice, including being one of the first attorneys to shine light on child sexual abuse of the Catholic Church in the early 90s. He passionately fought for the little guy against giant corporations. Some of his victories led to significant safety changes, including the implementation of safety bars on the rear end of tractor-trailers to prevent serious injuries.
He defended the innocent and prosecuted the guilty. One of the family’s favorite stories concerns a case of mistaken identity. A man was murdered in a bar in Green River, Wyoming and Bob’s client was accused of the crime. Bob visited the man in jail daily and knew he was innocent. After a hard fought case, Bob’s client was acquitted when it was found that the client’s brother committed the crime and fled to Mexico.
About ten years later, Bob’s client returned to his office to thank him. The client brought his wife and three small children and told Bob that without his help, none of his current happy life would have been possible. Bob always said that if that was the only case he ever had, he would have had a successful career.
Bob’s love of Wyoming led him to serve as a state senator for several years, championing the causes of his Sweetwater County constituents. He was a staunch democrat in a sea of red, but he was so intelligent, likeable, and trustworthy, he easily won his elections. He was able to unite both sides of the aisle to get legislation passed, including help lead the charge for Wyoming to recognize Martin Luther King, Jr. day as a holiday. He ran several successful campaigns for others, including for Governor Mike Sullivan.
History was always important to Bob. He devoured every book he could get his hands on about the Civil War and became one of the most knowledgeable in the country on the subject. He would take several days to travel to Virginia or Pennsylvania, don the garb, grab his musket and bayonet, and reenact classic Civil War battles. As an avid democrat, of course he was a Union soldier.
Bob was an avid sports fan and outdoorsman. He taught his children to fish, hunt, and play various sports. He witnessed many historical sporting events, including a hockey riot in Philadelphia between the Bruins and Flyers, Derek Jeter’s 3000th hit, and the Broncos victory in Superbowl 50. The Wyoming Cowboys were always close to his heart. He had season football and basketball tickets for decades and made every game he could.
Bob loved many things, but he loved his family the most. When he felt his children were not getting the education they needed and deserved, he ran for and was elected as a member of the local school board. He made every game, event, or concert a priority. He loved his wife Mary for 23 years until her death in 2010. Bob met the second love of his life, Viviane Gulick, in 2013. The two were happily married on June 20th, 2017 in a picturesque dream wedding in front of the Tetons at Jackson Lake Lodge.
Bob is survived by his loving wife Viviane; his children Derek Reese, Kelley and Darren Rosenbaum, Meagan Reese, Tyler Reese, and Whitney Reese; his sister Barbara Boren; his brothers David and Kristi Reese, Tom and Laurie Reese, Michael and Ila Reese, and Quentin and Sally Reese; and seven grandchildren.
Preceding Bob in death was his wife, Mary Reese, and his parents, Bill and Elsa Reese. A memorial service will be held at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Sunday, February 16th at 1pm.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association or the American Association of Justice.