March 23, 1935 – February 12, 2023
Reverend Wayne Gail Reece, 87, left this physical world to go to live in his heavenly home on Sunday, February 12, 2023.
Wayne was born in Muncie, Indiana, on March 23, 1935, to Charles Sutton and Cleota Harbaugh Reece.
He attended DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in 1957 and went on to earn his master’s degree from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, in 1960. He was ordained as Elder in the Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church (UMC) that same year.
Over his 42-year career, Wayne served two circuits of UMC churches in seminary and The First United Methodist churches of Marion, Indiana; Bangor, Michigan; Kalamazoo, Michigan; Big Rapids, Michigan; and Mason, Michigan. In each town, he was actively involved in social justice causes.
Wayne also served The United Methodist Church at the Conference, Jurisdictional, and International levels. As a Conference Staff member of the West Michigan Conference, he provided specialized training in Adult Education for clergy and laity. He also served as the Chair of the West Michigan Annual Conference Meetings for a number of years. He served two terms on the General Board of Discipleship, appointed by the North Central Jurisdictional Council representing the West Michigan Conference. Wayne and his wife, Jo, also represented the North Central Jurisdiction at the World Methodist Conference meeting in Brighton England in 2000. While appointed to Mason First UMC in Michigan, they also served churches in Wigan, England, in 1997 on an exchange through the World Methodist Conference.
As an editor at the United Methodist Publishing House for nine years, he edited many educational resources for youth and adults including, “Faith link,” “Adult Bible Studies,” and “Adult Leader.” He also wrote books at UMPH and for United Methodist Communications, such as “Giving Beyond Ourselves.” He continued this work freelance for a number of years in retirement.
Wayne gives credit for the spark that led to his calling to serve God in these ways to his parents and his grandparents, who were part of the founders of his home church, Madison Street United Methodist Church in Muncie, Indiana, that nurtured and sent dozens of young people into ministry. Additionally, his role as editor of the yearbook, The Munsonian, at Muncie Central High School and his lead roles in high school plays taught him the importance of writing and using words effectively, along with the arts to act out scriptures and sermons, such as his first-person monologues that touched so many over the years.
In retirement, he enjoyed working with Dr. David Watson for two years creating Covenant Discipleship Groups among clergy and laity in The Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference of The UMC.
Wayne also regularly wrote letters to the editor on social justice issues and won The Amy Crotts Award in 2005 “for exhibiting care and concern for fellow human beings,” given annually by The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville, Tennessee.
His fun passions in retirement included ushering for the Nashville Sounds baseball team for 19 years and ushering for sports and musical events at the Bridgestone Arena and plays, musicals, and ballet at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center.
He especially enjoyed filling in for pastors in many places including Donelson Heights UMC and McKendree Village, where he and Jo have resided since 2010. One of his special joys was having the honor of being invited by his niece, Catherine Burns, artistic director at The Moth, an international storytelling nonprofit, to tell one of his ministry stories at the opening of an exhibit on Three Faiths at the New York Public Library in 2012.
Wayne, along with his wife Jo, enjoyed traveling around the world, especially cruises to the Mediterranean, where he preached along Paul’s Journey in Athens, Greece, Central America, and the Panama Canal, where he served as Chaplain on three Princess Cruises. Their other joy was attending St. Louis Cardinals games each year, where he could visit his brick, a gift from his family celebrating 60 years of being a fan on his 70th birthday and meeting good friends at various baseball stadiums along the way (17 stadiums at last count).
Wayne was preceded in death by his parents, his first wife Judith Sharp Fenner, and his sister-in-law Rebecca Bentley Gay.
Left to cherish the many wonderful memories are Reverend Jo Bentley Reece, his wife of 50 years; C. David (Judi) Reece, his brother and sister-in-law; Wayne (Jean Griffin) Gay, brother-in-law; and four daughters and sons-in-law: Marcie (John) Mills, Angela Reece Pierce; Kirsten (Adrian) Goodnight, and Kendra (David) Gray. He also leaves behind 15 beloved grandchildren: Heather, Jessica, Jillian, Jonathan, Daniel, Richard, Nick, Jamie, Shawn, Amanda, Ashley, Breanna, David, Jacob, and Samuel, and 17 great-grandchildren, along with all of their families, and many nieces, nephews, and friends.
Wayne and Jo want to especially thank Brody Ray Runge, his very special caregiver and friend, and the staff at McKendree Village Health Center, Rehab 1 East and Long Term Care 2 North, for their wise, loving, thoughtful, and kind care.
A Celebration of Life service will be held at 2 pm Sunday, February 19, 2023 in the chapel of Austin & Bell Funeral Home, Springfield, Tennessee, with Rev. Debra Smith officiating. The family will receive friends from 12 pm Sunday until the time of the service at 2 pm at the funeral home. Burial will be in Elmwood Cemetery, 1029 Richard St., in Springfield.
To send flowers to the family of Wayne Gail Reece please visit our Sympathy Store link at the bottom of this page.
For those wishing to make memorial donations in Wayne’s honor, they can be made to the Donelson Heights UMC Pastor’s Discretionary Fund, 84 Fairway Drive, Nashville, TN 37214.
Austin & Bell Funeral Home in Springfield is in charge of arrangements.
*Reece, Wayne G. (Jo) – [(RE) D 1958; FE 1960; RE 2000] Transferred from N Indiana Conf 1963; Field Worker Conf; Board of Education 1963; Bangor 1966; General Board of Education 1970; Board of Discipleship, Section of Curriculum Resources 1973; Board of Discipleship, Curriculum Resources Committee 1977; Kalamazoo: First (Assoc) 2/15/1979; Big Rapids: First 1985; Mason: First 1992; Retired 2000