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Remembering Howard Reese

April 10, 2008 09:50 AM

USTA Florida is saddened to report the passing of Dr. Howard “Sparky” Reese of St. Petersburg, Fla.  Sparky, 85, passed away Saturday, April 5 at Hospice House Woodside, Pinellas Park.  He was a loving father, grandfather, great-grandfather, husband and part of the USTA Florida family. 

Serving as president of the association from 1972-1973, Sparky’s knowledge of the game and devotion to community tennis initiatives earned him respect from peers, players, volunteers and tennis staff nationwide.  Sparky was awarded the prestigious USTA Florida Male Merit Award in 1973, which recognizes a person who has had the greatest contribution to amateur tennis in Florida and was inducted into the USTA Florida Hall of Fame in 1990.  He was an advocate for tennis at the local level in St. Petersburg and owned Seminole Lake Tennis Center, a hub for prominent tennis players.   Some of his first staff members included Billy Sterns, Maria Cercone, Sam Vuille and USTA Florida staff member, Jeff Davis.

“His vision was to put qualified teaching professionals at local facilities to help grow the sport,” commented Jeff, a longtime family friend since the age of ten.

Sparky and his late wife, Gene Smith Reese, along with children Patty Ann Meyer, Ed Reese and Rebecca Reese-Rissmiller (1955-2008) were all competitive tennis players in Florida.  “Both Mr. and Mrs. Reese played tennis and did everything to help their kids excel in the sport,” added Jeff.

A Memorial Service celebrating the life of Sparky Reese will be held at 11:30 am Friday, April 11 at First United Methodist Church, 212 3rd Street N. St. Petersburg. A reception will follow at the church. Sparky will be laid to rest at Bay Pines National Cemetery next to his beloved Gene.

Donations in memory would be appreciated to the Tennis Foundation of St. Petersburg Inc , 650 18th Ave. S., St. Petersburg, FL 33705; a non-profit organization supporting the St. Petersburg Tennis Center. Please visit the family online memorial and guestbook at www.davidcgross.com.  David C. Gross Funeral Homes 6366 Central Ave/ (727) 381-4911.






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