State Rep. Mike Reese. (Courtesy of Pennsylvania House of Representatives) Mike Reese
State Rep. Mike Reese. (Courtesy of Pennsylvania House of Representatives)

Reese died of an apparent aneurysm about a month after he tested positive for COVID-19. It is unclear if the two illnesses were related.

WESTMORELAND COUNTY — State Rep. Mike Reese died Saturday of an apparent brain aneurysm. He was 42.

Reese, a Republican who represented the 59th District, which includes Westmoreland and Somerset counties, “died peacefully with his family by his side Saturday afternoon at Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg,” state Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, the House Majority Leader, said in a statement.

Reese was recently elected to serve as the Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus chairman for the 2020-21 session. His death comes just days before the members of the state House are scheduled to be sworn into office.

Reese said on Dec. 7 that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and he had been quarantining for the previous week. It is unclear if the COVID-19 and the aneurysm were connected.

Gov. Tom Wolf ordered that the commonwealth flag be lowered to half-staff to honor Reese. The flag has been at half-staff since March 11 to honor the victims of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Reese was first elected to the state House in 2008. He was re-elected in November to a seventh term. He served as the House Republican Caucus secretary in the 2019-20 session.

“More than a friend to all of us, and one of our caucus leaders, Mike was a devoted husband and father,” Benninghoff said, calling Reese “a model legislator who thoughtfully put his constituents first.”

State Rep. Greg Rothman, R-Cumberland, remembered Reese as “a kind, gentle and decent leader.”

State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Philadelphia, the minority whip, said he thought of Reese as a friend.

Reese grew up in Mount Pleasant, Westmoreland County, and graduated from Mount Pleasant Area High School in 1996. 

He earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Duquesne University in 2000 and a master’s degree in business administration from Seton Hill University in 2004.

He worked in the admissions office of the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg and as a teacher and counselor at the Pressley Ridge School, a nonprofit organization that serves children with special needs. He was also an adjunct professor at Westmoreland County Community College.

Before he ran for office, Reese was assistant director of financial administration for Westmoreland County.

During his tenure in the state House, Reese voted to reduce the size of the Legislature and privatize the state liquor store system.

In August, after Gov. Tom Wolf said health and education officials thought schools should postpone sports until 2021 because of the coronavirus, Reese introduced House Bill 2787. The bill, which was approved by the Legislature and vetoed by Wolf, would have allowed school officials, instead of state authorities, to decide whether to cancel sports and extracurricular activities for K-12 students.

Reese is survived by his wife Angela and three children.