Pennsylvania state Rep. Mike Reese, a Republican who was just re-elected in November and contracted the coronavirus in December, died Saturday at the age of 42 from an apparent brain aneurysm.
Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R) announced that Reese “died peacefully” while surrounded by his family at the Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg. Reese leaves behind his wife, Angela, and three children, as well as colleagues and friends who are now grieving his untimely loss.
Reese will be “sorely missed”
“On behalf of the entire House Republican Caucus, I extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the family of Rep. Mike Reese,” Benninghoff said in a statement. “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.”
“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,” the majority leader added. “Mike was a model legislator who thoughtfully put his constituents first. His spirit, presence and counsel will be sorely missed.”
Reese was first elected to the Pennsylvania state legislature in the 2008 election and rose in the ranks to serve as the House Republican Caucus secretary in the prior legislative session, and had been elected to serve as the caucus chairman for the upcoming session.
Family and constituents in mourning
PennLive.com reported that many of Reese’s friends and colleagues expressed their condolences at the news of his death, including Interim Sen. President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R).
Mike 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,” said Corman.
“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,” Corman added.
Recent battle with COVID-19
The Tribune-Democrat reported that Reese had revealed on Dec. 7 that he had contracted the coronavirus. It is unclear if the viral infection played a role in his death from a brain aneurysm nearly a month later.
“I recently learned I have tested positive for COVID-19,” Reese said at the time of his announcement. “I have been quarantining for the last week awaiting my test results and with the positive test will remain in quarantining until I have recovered. I am grateful to report my symptoms were mild and are subsiding. I’m feeling better as each day passes.”
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) ordered the commonwealth’s flags to remain at half-staff in honor of Reese, though the flags have reportedly been at half-staff since March out of respect for all of the state’s victims of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I extend my heartfelt condolences on the passing of Rep. Mike Reese,” Gov. 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.”