During today's closing program for Gamma Pi Chapter's Project ENRICH college prep program, first-year director Bro. James Riley, Jr. was getting the virtual program started when a few minutes in he threw the virtual mic to Bro. William Bill "364" Reese. Bro. Riley asked Bro. Reese to provide some of his infinite wisdom to departing seniors. It was as routine as it gets during Project ENRICH as program leaders are always called on to provide some Uplift to the students. But nobody can impart the kind of wisdom of Bro. Reese, affectionately called "364" because that is his Life Membership number in Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Bro. Reese has more than 50 years in Omega.
Like a home run hitter getting just the right pitch, Bro Reese, when called upon, gathered himself and smacked the opportunity clear out of the park. It went over the fence and into the stands. He delivered powerful, moving, touching remarks that in retrospect turned out to be his last goodbye to all. After he ended his remarks, he turned from his computer, stood up and walked away as his Web Ex connection remained active and his mic was muted. His camera stayed on. He was not in view and never came back into view. All that could be seen was his empty leather chair. The word spread quickly throughout Gamma Pi about an hour after the program ended that Bro. Reese had passed -- entering Omega Chapter right after giving the remarks and going off-camera. Today, the shockwaves have been felt like an earthquake tremor in the chapter, in the Fraternity and in the community.
Bro. Reese (Rho Theta '70), of Waco, Tex., is being remembered tonight as an Omega man's Omega -- loyal to the Fraternity and the Four Cardinal Principles, true to the Brothers till the end. His last words were inspiring and Uplifting to young people at a time when they most needed to hear inspiration and Uplift. His wife Rita worked alongside him at Project ENRICH in 2019 when it was being held in-person at Bowie State University prior to the coronavirus pandemic. Mrs. Reese started a special initiative for Project ENRICH young women called I.N.S.T.A.G.R.A.M while he worked with young men by holding Young Gentlemen sessions to talk about life.
Today's program was broadcast live on Facebook vis WebEx. Below is a video clip of Bro. Reese's excerpted remarks just before his untimely passing. For Gamma Pi, it is the second huge body blow in just the past three months as Immediate Past Basileus Bro. Rev. Tony Lee lost his life to the coronavirus at just age 52 in January while hospitalized.