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June 5, 1946 – May 4, 2020
East Wenatchee, WA
Reese Charles Harper, age 73, departed for his favorite fishing hole in the sky on Monday, May 4, 2020, with his wife of 29 years, Connie, by his side.
Reese Harper was born on June 5, 1946 in Corinne, UT, to James “Jay” and Shirley Harper (Woodward). He grew up in Quincy, WA, where he attended elementary school and graduated from Quincy High School in 1964. Reese attended Washington State University in Pullman, where he became a proud Coug.
Reese was a charismatic young man who excelled in sports and school leadership. In high school, Reese, competed in basketball, track, baseball, and bowling and was also honored to be selected to attend Boys State. In college, Reese was voted freshman student body president and was a member of Theta Chi fraternity at WSU. Reese’s time in college was interrupted by his service to our country – where he was drafted into the Army to serve during the Vietnam War.
In 1967, Reese married Gloria Jean Carlson (of Ephrata, WA) in San Antonio, TX, where Reese was stationed in the Army. The couple resided in San Antonio, TX; Lacey, WA; Pullman, WA; and Portland, OR. That marriage brought two loving children into the world – Julie and Troy.
After graduation from Washington State in 1970, Reese entered the management training program at Meyer & Frank department store. He then joined Homer Formby Furniture Refinishing Products, where he was a rising junior executive and personal favorite of Mr. Formby.
Reese and Gloria divorced in 1974, and after that, Reese raised the children for many years as a single dad, which was unique to that time. A devoted parent, Reese always put his children’s interests ahead of his own.
Reese met Connie Jean Carlson (also of Ephrata, WA) in 1978 when she became the nanny to Julie and Troy. After many years as the nanny to his kids, Connie married Reese in 1990. They lived in Federal Way, WA; Whitefish, MT; and East Wenatchee, WA.
In Seattle, Reese started his own business, Trendsetters Northwest, to represent upscale houseware products including Baccarat crystal, Dansk International Designs china, and other fine products. After selling Trendsetters, Reese continued his retail career in a regional position in central Washington. For many years, Reese also ran the business operations of Connie’s apparel design company, Spa Diva & Co.
Along with his charisma and movie-star good-looks, Reese was a jokester with a big heart. Reese would often tell tongue-in-cheek tales to his kids and grandkids, such as that he was “All City” in basketball in Quincy or that he later played point guard for the Portland Trailblazers. He was known as “Beba” to his grandkids, which as typical, arose from one of his grandkids interpreting his intended name. He loved his kids and grandkids and had special nicknames for all of them, including Julie Babe, Scooter Bug, Big Dog, Kellie Bo Jelly and Lodie Bedodie. He never let Chuck forget that he was his favorite (albeit only) son-in-law.. Ever self-deprecating, he often joked about having “AlzHarpers” in moments of mental lapse. And, if you knew Reese, you would know he never wanted anyone to fuss over him. It would be impossible to count the times he said, “Well, no! Don’t worry about me.”
Reese was an active outdoorsman who loved to camp and fish with his family and friends. Reese’s and Connie’s favorite camping spot was near Lake Wenatchee. He and his life-long friend Mike Avey owned a fishing boat they named “Two Ol’ Cougs”, which was the basis for many great memories.
Reese and Connie were the life of the party when they spent time with their friends. Their house was always the social center of the neighborhood, known as “The Harper Zone”–once you arrived, you never left. Reese and Connie enjoyed vacationing in Mexico and Las Vegas where they soaked in the sun by day and gambled the nights away.
Reese and Connie enjoyed spending many 4th of July celebrations at his sister Sandy’s and brother-in-law Wayne’s home in the Yakima area. Reese and Wayne were always the house comedians and practical jokers.
Reese loved spending time with his family. He took the train to Montana many times to visit his daughter Julie and her family. He would often jump in the car and take a drive to see his son Troy. His favorite activity when visiting was “just being in your space”, whether it was puttering in the kitchen or taking drives to see wildlife.
Speaking of wildlife, over the years, the Harper home was a familiar haven to numerous felines, who were the obvious heads of the household. These true members of the family included Tubbs, Murphy, Kato Ito, Tiger, Boo Boo, Binky, and Rocco.
Reese and Connie lived in East Wenatchee for the past 12 years, where they were able to be near Connie’s parents, Harold (deceased) and Bobby Carlson, and her sisters Sharon and Karon Carlson.
Reese will be remembered as an unconditionally loving husband, father, uncle, brother, grandparent, and friend. He made everyone around him feel special and loved. He was full of sage advice, offered with a twinkle in his eye. When asked about aging, he always responded with, “Remember, you’re only as old as you are!” He will be deeply missed by those that knew and loved him.
Reese is survived by his wife, Connie Carlson Harper; sister Sandy Clasen of Yakima, WA; daughter, Julie Harper Brown (Charles) of Whitefish, MT; son, Troy Alan Harper of Vancouver, WA; grandchildren Ryan Charles Brown (Anna Caroline Rives), Kellie Harper Brown, and Lauren Elizabeth Brown, all of Whitefish, MT; mother-in-law Barbara Carlson, and sisters-in-law Karon and Sharon Carlson, all of East Wenatchee, WA; nephew Gavin (Crystal) Bepple of Everett, WA and niece Wendy (Mike) Heit of Yakima, WA, his extended family and many dear friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents James and Shirley Harper, his father-in-law Harold Carlson, and his brother-in-law Wayne Clasen.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you celebrate Reese’s life by doing an activity he enjoyed or donate to the charity of your choice.
A private celebration of his life will be held at a later date.
You are invited to view Reese’s online tribute at www.heritagememorialchapel.com to share a memory or leave a condolence.