Mary Pearl Reese was born the daughter of Taylor and Lucille McCray in Bucksport, South Carolina on May 2, 1940 (mid-wife recording May 27, 1940). She was the youngest of 12 children: Oscar McCray, Taylor McCray, Luella Waddel, Frederick McCray, Annabell McCray, Carolyn McCray, Joseph McCray, Edward McCray, Edna E. McCray Ivory and James Lee McCray. Taylor McCray had a child before marrying Lucille - Kathrine Burroughs McKithen. On April 3, 2021, Mary joined her parents and siblings in Heaven.
Mary grew up in Bucksport and graduated from State High School in Conway, South Carolina in 1958. After graduation, Mary was invited to live with her sister Luella in Montclair, New Jersey. After moving to New Jersey, Mary began her working at a company that produced boxes. It was at this company where she met the love of her life, Walter Lee Reese, who was introduced to her by his aunt Ophellia Reese. Mary and Walter married in 1959 and were soon blessed with four loving offspring, Walter Reese Jr., Melvin Reese, Charlene Reese-Carlos and Edwin Reese. Mary and her husband Walter instilled a deep sense of family values into their children and raised them based on a core value – If we work together, we can accomplish all of our goals.
Mary was an industrious woman. Over her lifetime, in addition to the box company, Mary worked at a wallet manufacturing company, Drakes Cupcake Company, and Ford Motor Company in order to support her family. Later in her career, she had a calling to assist those in need and began providing residential nursing services to elderly men and women in northern New Jersey. Mary was known for treating her clients with the utmost of care and respect and, in 2010, she retired to fulfill her life-long dream of moving back to her place of birth Bucksport, South Carolina and having a home built on the very land that she was raised on.
Mary enjoyed sewing, knitting, making silk flower arrangements and other arts and crafts in her spare time. She often made custom items such as wedding albums and dolls for her children and grandchildren. As an entrepreneur, she also sold her arts and crafts. Mary had a profound sense of family passed on from her mother, Lucille and father, Taylor. From her children’s early years, Mary exposed Walter, Melvin, Charlene, and Eddie to memorable experiences such as trips to amusement parks, drive-in theaters, crabbing, etc. She made sure her children enjoyed family outings to visit aunts, uncles and cousins almost every weekend, and although they grew up in New Jersey, Mary made sure that her children got to know their family in South Carolina. Her hallmark was always having an open-door policy for family and friends. Mary was a loving grandmother who relished keeping her grandchildren over summers and school vacations.
Mary is survived by her four children, eight grandchildren—Jasmine Reese, Kuantella Reese, Vance Jackson, Nicole Reese, Melvin Jordan Reese, Amber Patrice Reese, Justin Miles Reese and Jamel Walter Reese, two daughters-in-law—Debbie-Anne Reese and Harriet Reese, a son-in-law—Troy Carlos, a sister-in-law—Mildred McCray, three great-grandchildren, and a host of nieces and nephews.
The Reese Family would like to thank each of you for the many acts of kindness shown to us during the home going of our dearly departed Mother. Your thoughts, prayers, visits, phone calls, floral arrangements and food has been a loving source of strength to us. Thank you again and may God continue to bless us all.
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