NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - “My children thought their daddy was Superman. He was like their superhero,” said Wayne Reese, Sr.'s widow, Stella Reese.
Wayne Reese never actually wore a cape but to his family, and the young football players he coached for almost five decades, he definitely had Clark Kent-like qualities.
“A guy who gave of himself probably more than he should have, if that’s such a thing. You always knew Wayne Reese was going to be right by your children,” said radio personality, Ro Brown.
“He was truly the center of our lives. Because we were the center of his life. We saw that, and my children saw that at any early age that their father would do anything for them. I knew as a wife, my husband was always there for me,” said Stella Reese.
“I danced for over 12 years. My sister before I did. So well over 20 years that he was at every single dance recital. He even danced in one of the recitals with me right before I graduated. It was never an option for him to choose between family and football. He made every event,” said Reese’s daughter, Myla Poree.
On the sideline, Reese won a ton of games, 255 to be exact. Racking up victories as the head football coach of three different New Orleans high schools. Most recently at McDonogh 35.
Now the reason on his teams were always in the playoffs wasn’t because of some new high-tech offense. Reese just understood how to push kids to be great on and off the field.
“We have to succeed. We have to win games. It’s not for us, it’s for Reese. We love Reese that much. We had to do it for Reese no matter what. Especially my group in ’07. Man we love Reese. Just motivating us,” said McDonogh 35 alum and former Saint, Delvin Breaux.
“I don’t think it’s dealing with X’s and O’s. I think how you treat people every day, and people respect you, do right by people, and good things going to happen. You know, 250 wins, it was another win for him. His main concern is helping others. Making sure kids have an opportunity to go to college,” said Reese’s son, Wayne Jr.
His wife, Stella, points out Wayne had broad shoulders for a reason. Because he needed them to carry everyone else’s problems. But a few months back, it was “Coach” who needed the help.
“When he was getting sick, he was a very proud man. He would not let you know how bad the pain was, but we could see it. All he would tell us is ‘I’m going to be alright, I’m going to be alright.’ Finally we said after consulting with his doctor, and after being on several things, we took him to the emergency room. Well the sad part about that, I didn’t even realize once I let him out and parked the car, I could not go back in. I could not see him,” said Stella Reese.
The 75-year old contracted COVID-19. Over time, his body continued to weaken. Eventually he was put on a ventilator.
“His last words for me were, ‘I said you know I love you.’ He said I love you more. So I will never forget those words,” said his widow.
The beloved coach, father, brother, and husband of 47 years lost his battle with the virus.
“The call was really surprising and a shock for me. For me it was a struggle. Here we are, with this virus, we were quarantined. My children weren’t coming near me, my grandchildren weren’t. How could I tell them this tragic loss that we had. So immediately started praying for guidance. I realized I had to do it one at a time,” said Stella.
I think that’s going to haunt us for the rest of our life, right. Because he was there for all of us, no matter what. I never thought in a million years this would be the outcome," said Reese’s daughter, Kimberly.
“He would worry about other people. He wouldn’t worry about himself. That’s the last thing I’ll remember him. This house, he helped me build it. Every day he would go with me to Home Depot, and just bought everything I needed,” said Reese’s son, Alfred.
The 2019 season, was year 49 for Reese in coaching. Now usually on the back end of your career getting through to teenagers isn’t easy. Football can become a young man’s game. Not for Reese. His last season with the Roneagles was one of his best, they came up one step short of the Dome losing in the state semifinals.
“I tell my sister. This is not the story we wrote for ourselves. This is the story we’ve been given. Our story, my dad is here forever. We get to the Superdome, we win a state championship, and all is well with life. We’ll be figuring out this new life, without the person who held us together for a long time,” said Kimberly Reese.