Pennsylvania House Rep. Mike Reese, 42, died on Saturday from an apparent aneurysm
A rising Pennsylvania lawmaker set to assume a leadership position in the state’s Republican majority died on Saturday from an apparent brain aneurysm, just weeks after he tested positive for COVID-19.
The death of Pennsylvania House Rep. Mike Reese was first announced in a statement from Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff on Saturday night. He was 42.
Reese passed away ‘peacefully’ earlier Saturday ‘with his family by his side’ at Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg following an apparent brain aneurysm, Benninghoff said.
Just weeks earlier, on December 7, the married father-of-three revealed that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.
He said at the time his symptoms were mild and he was recovering. It’s unclear if his death is in anyway linked to the virus.
A representative for Reese has not yet returned a DailyMail.com request for comment.
Reese passed away ‘peacefully’ on Saturday afternoon ‘with his family by his side’ at Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg
On December 7, he had revealed he was self-isolating after testing positive for coronavirus. He was said to be recovering from the virus when he fell ill, prior to his death
The 12-year House veteran was first elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 2008 to serve parts of Westmoreland and Somerset Counties, replacing the retiring Jess Stairs. He took office as the House GOP secretary in the 2009-10 Legislative Session.
He was re-elected to represent the two counties on November 3, and was subsequently chosen to serve as chairman of the party’s caucus in the 2020-21 session.
‘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,’ Benninghoff wrote in a statement.
‘Mike was a model legislator who thoughtfully put his constituents first. His spirit, presence and counsel will be sorely missed.’
Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa also expressed his sympathy to Reese’s family, in light of his death.
‘I am devastated to learn of the passing of our House colleague Mike Reese,’ Costa, D-Forest Hills, said in a statement. ‘On behalf of the Senate Democratic Caucus, I want to extend my deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues. He was a leader in Western Pennsylvania and gone far too soon.’
survived by his wife, Angela (left), and their three children, Addison (second left), Claire (right) and Michael (second from right)
In early December, Reese, of Mt. Pleasant, revealed on Facebook that he had tested for the coronavirus.
‘I recently learned I have tested positive for COVID-19,’ he wrote on December 7. ‘I have been quarantining for the last week awaiting my test results and with the positive test will remain in quarantine until I have recovered.
‘I am grateful to report my symptoms were mild and are subsiding,’ he continued. ‘I’m feeling better as each day passes.’
Reese had been on the mend when he recently fell ill, according to Tribune Live.
State Rep. George Dunbar (R-Penn Township) said in a tribute that he had only spoken to Reese on New Year’s Eve – three days before his death – and said he appeared to be happy and healthy.
‘He had just run five miles when we talked, and he was about to take his son hunting,’ Dunbar said.
‘Mike was one of my best friends,’ he continued. ‘He was always a family man whose whole life revolved around this three children. He was probably the most respected member of the House.
‘This is a great loss for Westmoreland County and a great loss for his family.’
He is survived by his wife, Angela, and their three young children, Addison, Claire and Michael.
PA State Rep. Jesse Topper added that the people of the 59th Legislative District ‘lost a hardworking representative and I lost one of my best friends.’
‘Words can’t describe the hole left with Mike’s passing. He was a man who stood by his principles and was willing to reach across the aisle. Above all, he was greatly respected in the entire General Assembly. I ask you to say a prayer for Mike and his family,’ Topper continued.
To honor Reese, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf ordered the state flag on all state and public buildings and grounds to fly at half-staff.
‘I extend my heartfelt condolences on the passing of Representative Mike Reese,’ Wolf said in a statement. ‘Our thoughts are with Mike’s family, colleagues and constituents. Mike was a good man and a strong leader, and the people of western Pennsylvania have lost a dedicated advocate.’
Reese had been chosen to serve as chairman of the party’s caucus in the 2020-21 session
A former teacher, Reese focused on education issues and was a proponent of charter schools, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
He graduated from Mount Pleasant Area High School and later went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Duquesne University. He then obtained a master’s degree in business administration from Seton Hill University.
Reese worked in the admissions office of the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg and as a teacher and counselor at the Pressley Ridge School, a non-profit organization serving children with special needs. He was also an adjunct professor at Westmoreland County Community College.
Before running for office himself, he served as the assistant director of financial administration for Westmoreland County.
He had also served as chief of staff for two Westmoreland County commissioners, Terry Marolt and Phil Light.
During his more-than decade in the state House, he voted to reduce the size of the Legislature and privatize the state liquor-store system, in addition to focusing on accountability for charter and cyber-charter schools.
In August, he was the lead sponsor of a House bill that would have allowed school officials – instead of state authorities – to decide whether to cancel sports and other extracurricular school activities of K-12 students.
The bill was introduced five days after Gov. Tom Wolf said health and education officials thought all school sports should be postponed until at least January 1, citing the rapid spread of COVID-19.
‘I was personally taken aback by the governor’s comments,’ Reese responded at the time. ‘I think we need to let them play as best they can.’