Longtime editor, publisher of "The Miami Laker," dead at 81

Wednesday, September 4, 2019 0 Comments

Longtime editor, publisher of "The Miami Laker," dead at 81

Roger Alan Reece, the editor and publisher of “The Miami Laker” for three decades, died on Aug. 4 after a short illness.
Reece, of Miami Lakes, was 81.
He was called a town legend, a gentleman and even a rock star by friends who mourned him.
“As a devoted newspaper reader, I was always proud to read the news of the Miami Lakes area so well presented by Roger Reece and his staff,” said Bob Graham, a former Florida governor and United States senator.
“He was a fine man and his talent and friendship will be missed,” Graham said.
Adele Graham, the senator’s wife and a friend of Reece’s since their school days in the Miami Shores area, said while growing up, Reece “was always a smiling, achieving friend.”
She also praised the stories he published, calling them “balanced” and “good news.”
“I was so pleased to witness his good works at “The Miami Laker,” and to know he was editor of our community newspaper,” she said. “How good it was to share his friendship for so many years.”
The newspaper is owned by The Graham Companies. Reece was the steady hand at the biweekly, and he gave personal attention to advertisers.
“Roger made sure you loved your ad and if you didn’t, he helped you with it,” said Lynn Matos, real estate agent with Re/Max Unique Realty.
Reece was only the second editor of the newspaper. It began publishing in 1963 as a newsletter that publicized The Graham Companies’ real estate developments. At that time, the firm was building the town on land that was the Graham family’s dairy farm.
“He was one of the last remaining people who was actually here from the beginning, and was a trusted advisor to me when I needed to understand anything related to the history of Miami Lakes or the creation of the town,” said Stuart S. Wyllie, president and chief executive officer of The Graham Companies.
“Roger was passionate about both “The Miami Laker” and the Town of Miami Lakes,” Wyllie said. “We worked closely together for over 27 years. He will be missed.”
Reece continued to be one of the biggest boosters of the community after it incorporated in 2000.
In the newspaper’s pages, he celebrated family-oriented happenings such as the Classic Car Show on Main Street; the Festival of Lights on Main Street during the holiday season and the Farmer’s Market.
Barbara Zambrano, administrator at Miami Lakes Eye Care Center, said Reece was both a patient and a friend.
The business advertised in “The Miami Laker” for many years and Zambrano said her friendship with Reece spanned 31 years.
“Through the paper, he was the voice of Miami Lakes, with a small-town outlook,” Zambrano said. “He was a wonderful person.”
Reece was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1938. A decade later his family moved to Miami, where he attended what was then called Horace Mann Junior High School, in El Portal, and Miami Edison Senior High School, according to an Aug. 13 obituary published in “The Miami Herald.”
Historian Arva Parks and Adele Graham knew Reece from junior high and both remembered dances they all attended at El Portal Village Hall.
Parks, 80, said of Reece, “We were really good friends. He had a great personality. People considered him good looking and he was one of the student leaders.”
Parks called Reece “a very responsible, caring human being. That is what his dedication to the paper says about him. He was smart, too.”
Reece earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in radio and television at the University of Miami. While at UM, he edited the yearbook and was a sports editor for “The Miami Hurricane” student newspaper.
He served in the United States Marine Corps Reserve in the late 1950s and enjoyed careers in radio and in public relations in South Florida, said his daughter, Tammy Reece, 56.
In 1972 and 1973, he was president of the Miami chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.
Reece sold his part of the Schulte, Reece & Aguilar, Inc. firm in the late 1970s and moved near Jackson Hole, Wyo., where he ran a small resort, his daughter said.
In 1983, Reece returned to Miami and began working for The Graham Companies.
In a profile in “The Miami Laker,” Reece called it “an honor” to assume leadership of the newspaper.
One of his hires was Yvonne Salvatore, 60, of Merritt Island in Brevard County, who used to live in town.
A graphic artist for the newspaper, she also helped Reece at arts and crafts festivals, musical performances, fireworks and goings on along Main Street.
The texts she received from Reece when he rose in the morning and settled in at night no longer come.
“That’s the hardest thing,” Salvatore said of the reminder that he has passed on.
“He taught me everything I knew about my work for The Graham Companies and gave me the chance that I needed to be the person I am today,” Salvatore said.
Reece was “like a college professor,” Salvatore said. “I didn’t have a dad. He was my surrogate dad. He gave me away at my wedding.”
Reece spent Christmases with her family, and he would spoil Salvatore’s grandchildren.
“He would get toys that made a lot of noise,” she said. “If the toys would annoy the parents, he thought that was funny.”
Reece was married several times, Tammy Reece said.
His marriage with second wife Sally Lynn Reece brought the couple three children: Tammy, Jodie Reece, 54, and son Tracy Reece, 51.
His marriage to real estate broker Barbara Gabriel was his last.
“That’s the love story, and that’s the one everybody knows,” Reece said.
They were together 25 years and married for 17.
Barbara Gabriel “was a president of Zonta [International, a service organization that advocates for women] and a former flight attendant and a big real estate person in Miami Lakes,” Reece said.
Lynn Matos moved to town in 1994 and said she met Reece through Gabriel.
“She just couldn’t have been any nicer, and so was Roger,” Matos said. “He was a Miami Lakes legend, a rock star.”
Matos said she could rely on Reece for “sage counsel and advice. … He is going to be so missed.”
Besides enjoying travel and going on cruises with Barbara, Reece played competitive tennis at Shula’s Athletic Club.
He lost Barbara to lung cancer in 2009, when she was 66.
But, he also “loved The Laker,” Salvatore said. “That was his life and was like another child for him. The Laker kept him vital.”
Miami Lakes Mayor Manny Cid enjoyed easy access to Reece.
“Once in a while I would pop in and we would just talk in his office,” Cid said. “He expressed his love for the town and was always very professional.”
Like Salvatore, Cid noted Reece’s devotion to the newspaper.
“The Laker meant a lot to him,” Cid said. “He was The Laker, for all these years.”
Reece doted upon his sibling gray cats, Lola and Louis, and Salvatore said she is caring for the felines he adopted seven years ago from the Humane Society of Broward County.
“He had a good heart, and if he saw something good in you, he was there beside you forever,” Salvatore said.
In addition to his three adult children, Reece is also survived by two grandchildren and a sister.
Reece’s funeral was private.

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