(This developing story will be updated)
Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Reese, a Republican whose 59th House District seat spans Westmoreland and Somerset counties, has died, aged 42, apparently of a brain aneurysm, officials said Saturday.
Reese died Saturday afternoon at Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital with his family by his side, KDKA-TV reported, House Republicans said in a statement. His death comes just days before the members of the 203-member House are due to be sworn into office for the 2021 legislative session.
On December 7, Reese tested positive for coronavirus, the Capital-Star previously reported.
Reese, who was first elected in 2008, and won re-election in November, served as the House Republican Caucus secretary during the 2019-20 session. He was elected to serve as caucus chairman in the 2020-21 session, KDKA-TV reported.
In a statement, House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre, said that “on behalf of the entire House Republican Caucus, I extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the family of Rep. Mike Reese.”
“More than a friend to all of us, and one of our caucus leaders, Mike was a devoted husband and father. His wife, three young children and extended family are in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time,” Benninghoff continued.
“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. Mike was a model legislator who thoughtfully put his constituents first. His spirit, presence and counsel will be sorely missed,” the House GOP leader concluded.
Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre, said Reese “came to Harrisburg determined to be a strong voice for his community in the state’s capital as he fought to empower local governments and schools to make decisions about what is best for them. It was obvious the decisions he made as part of government were guided by his desire to make the Commonwealth a better place for his family and others.
Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland, said her community had “lost a great champion and leader, and I lost a true friend. More importantly, the Reese family is grieving the loss of a devoted son, husband and father. Mike Reese wore many different hats during his too short life, but none were more important to him than his role as a father and husband. My prayers are with Mike’s wife Angela and their three children, Addison, Claire and Michael Eric.
“Mike was a part of the fabric of Westmoreland County politics over the last two decades. Since 2008 when he and I joined the state legislature, he has been a terrific partner in advocating for Westmoreland County and a staunch proponent of good government. He quickly became one of the most respected voices in Harrisburg on education issues and was a rising star in the House Republican leadership ranks,” Ward continued. “Our community was robbed of one of the most honorable men I have ever had the privilege to serve with and our Commonwealth will be worse off because Mike’s voice will not be a part of its future.”
In a statement, Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, said he was “devastated” to learn of Reese’s death.
“On behalf of the Senate Democratic Caucus, I want to extend my deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues. My prayers are especially with his young family as they mourn this sudden loss. He was a leader in Western [Pennsylvania] and gone far too soon,” Costa said. “While we didn’t have the opportunity to work together often in our separate chambers, I fondly remember playing softball with him at our annual charity game in Harrisburg. He was a great player and teammate. I am stunned he is no longer with us.”
In a statement, U.S. Rep. John Joyce, R-13th District, whose seat overlapped with Reese’s district, called the Republican a “dedicated public servant and a devoted husband and father.
“Since taking office in 2009, Mike served as an outstanding advocate for the 59th Legislative District and a friend to many across our Commonwealth. It was my privilege to serve the people of Somerset and Westmoreland Counties alongside him. Alice and I are heartbroken by the tragic news of his passing, and we are praying for his wife, Angela, their three young children, and their loved ones as they grieve this immense loss,” Joyce said.