Ira D. "Pappy" Reese
Ira D. "Pappy" Reese passed on July 25, 2021, in the same manner he lived his life, a soul at peace with a firm faith in the salvation of Jesus Christ. Born September 27, 1928, in Port Matilda, PA, he bore witness to the end of the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, and World War II. Growing up on a farm, forever shaped his character of hard work and determination. After marrying Joyce, he moved West to work for Boeing as an electrician, but the soul of a simple man was not satisfied with city life. With the call of the West ringing in his ears, he moved to Quincy, WA, where he began working as a farm/ranch hand. He loved all things country, horses, John Deere tractors, and working the soil. He soon bought a small farm near George, WA, to pursue his life's pleasures. To all that knew him as neighbor, friend, mentor, uncle, brother, father, or Grandpa, each knew him to be loyal to a fault, generous with all he had, and passionate about the western lifestyle. A true cowboy at heart, he found great joy in working the land and cattle, time in the saddle, and anticipation of fish rising to a fly. He loved the mountains and trails of Washington State, and though he spoke with great fondness of his home in Pennsylvania, his heart sent deep roots here at the foot of the Cascade Mountains. Very few get the opportunity to live with a heart so well-filled, not with possessions or riches, but with the great treasure of believing the view from a penthouse on 5th Avenue doesn't compare to the apricot sunrise from a tractor seat or snowy mountains from the saddle. It is a life well lived when the heart smiles, and its light illuminates those around them. Such as it was for Ira.
While we could write a book of the stories and adventures of Pappy, which seems to be the case of all who have a love for horses and the outdoors, it seems fitting I should share the last conversation he and I had. Pappy foreshadowed his passing during our talk, mentioning his desire to ride the hills again with Ned, his last horse. There was a familiar glint in his eyes, as I could see memories coming back to him of pine trails, burbling streams, and sunbeams breaking down into the shaded canyons of Ingalls or Jack Creek. As he came back around he simply said, “I'll be going up the trail early, but I'll leave a couple of horses tied at the trail head so you know where I've gone. Catch up when you get there."
When we talk about Heaven, we often imagine a golden staircase leading up to the great Pearly Gates. That doesn't seem to fit the way Pappy lived; I fully expect, when my time comes to leave this world, I will find myself standing at a trailhead in the Cascade Mountains with Buck, Beauty, Slim, and Sooner, long-tied to the post and saddled for the trip. I half expect one to whinny-ask, "What took you so long!" The saddlebags will be filled with dried beef sandwiches, Butterfingers, and A&W Root Beer, and my fly rod will be tied across the back with only the highest quality orange baling twine. I'll swing up into the saddle and ride without worry because Pappy and Jesus went up the trail just a bit earlier.
He is survived by his wife of 73 years, Joyce; daughter, Darlene; son-in-law Cliff; three grandsons: Kelsey, Derek, Russ; and five great-grandchildren: Blake, Grant, Sam, Lauren, and Emma.
A private Family Service will be held later.