Mother of seven has reason to celebrate Sunday

Published 11:02 am Saturday, May 7, 2011

FRANKLIN—Elsie Reese has a lot of pride in her family.

Elsie Reese, who turns 75 in August, holds up a framed photograph that includes all of her seven children. She also has nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. -- Dale Liesch | Tidewater News

She has to with seven children, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Reese has watched each grow up and become successful with families of their own, and she couldn’t be happier about that.

“It’s nice to see them all grown up,” the 74-year-old said from her Delk Street home in Franklin.

Sunday, to celebrate Mother’s Day, the family plans to attend services at New Mount Zion Baptist Church and have a cookout.

Reese’s children are Linwood Reese, 53; Gloria Britt, 52; Renee Bevelyn, 51; Tab Reese, 47; Kim Ash, 46; Ronald Reese, 43; and Debra Brown, 39.

“Back then it wasn’t too bad, but it was bad,” Elsie Reese said about raising a large family. “I raised them up to be the best they could be.”

She said all were active in school, which require time and money.

The widow of Joe Reese, who passed away in 2002, Elsie Reese stayed home until all of her kids were in school. After that, she worked in the cafeteria at Franklin High School.

She said being a mother was never too difficult.

“It was nice,” Elsie Reese said. “I enjoyed raising my children.”

In fact, she joked that one of the toughest situations was keeping 6-foot-9-inch Ronald Reese in clothing as he grew up.

“We had to pay a lot for his clothes,” Elsie Reese said. “Every time I turned around, I had to go the big man store.”

Ronald Reese played basketball at Franklin High School before going to the University of Tennessee, where he played from 1987 to 1991. He also played professionally in Germany, Belgium and Italy.

Ronald Reese said the children tried to make it as easy as possible on their parents.

“We all got along,” he said.

Sgt. First Class Tab Reese is serving with the National Guard and living in Portsmouth. He has served in Afghanistan.

Bevelyn is a teacher in Fredericksburg, while Ash works in Richmond and Brown, the youngest daughter, is an aspiring model.

Britt, who lives in Franklin and manages United Insurance Co., called her mother “sweet and old-fashioned.”

“She was the kind of mother that would respect you and you respected her,” Britt said. “She exemplifies what a good mother should be.”

Britt said she remembers a time in the late 1960s when her mother really stepped up for the family. Britt said they were living in Newark, N.J., and her father had left to find work in Franklin. She said her mother had a way for comforting her six children at the time, even though their father was away.

“She was just that rock,” Britt said. “She just made us feel really comfortable.”

Elsie and Joe Reese were married nearly 50 years. The two met in high school and grew up between Holland and Suffolk.