Donna Reese

Donna Marie Reese

1961 - 2020

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Obituary of Donna Marie Reese

Donna Reese , loving Wife, Mother, Sister, Grand Mother, Friend, Community Leader , 58, passed away peacefully surrounded by family January 31st 2020. Donna was a Disability Rights & Civil Rights advocate, long-time community activist and Syracuse Icon.

Member of the CENTRO Board of Directors, the first African-American woman who is also Blind to hold this position.

Native Syracusan Married to Duane Reese Sr. for 30 years, together for 45 years. Duane and Donna together raised three children Duane L. Reese II (Paula) , Tequila Pease, and Tamara Reese (Joe) , 7 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.

Donna was the youngest of seven children, born and raised in Syracuse’s South Side by parents James and Betty Jane Warren-DuBose. Donna is predeceased by her parents and siblings Patricia DuBose, Rueben DuBose and Bernice Sheard. She is survived by her siblings Margaret 'Peggy' Chappel (LeMichael), Andy DuBose, Betty DuBose, Patricia McIntyre, Janice Thomas and special friends Jean Kessner, Barrie Gewanter, Dr.Rick Wright and Peter Cappuccilli. With a host of nieces , nephews and friends. Donna always credited the influence of her parents for the strong sense of family that she had with her husband Duane and always said her proudest achievements were raising her three children which she was so proud of and loved very much.

Other achievements included facilitating a monthly Vision Loss Support group at Aurora where she was a valued , hardworking, and passionate outreach specialist.

Her work with the mentally disabled at Hutchings Psychiatric Center laid the foundation for her later advocacy that transformation into a full-fledged community activism.

Between her work at Hutchings, Donna served as a two-term President for the Syracuse Chapter of the NAACP from 1998-2002. Being the 1st woman in CNY to hold that position. During her terms as President she became Co-Founder and Executive Committee Member of the Pan-African Village at the Great New York State Fair.

Queen Donna dedicated her life to years of hard work standing up, speaking out ,and making change in the community for social and racial injustice.

A mentor and advocate for Aurora, helping people in the various stages of their vision or hearing loss acclimate to the lifestyle changes that come with sensory impairments and disabilities. She was a valued committee member for the annual Americans With Disabilities Act Celebration.

Most importantly though, she maintained and spread a calm levity to buffer the chaos of blindness, both for herself and her mentees.

By walking by faith and not by sight every day.

Among the many awards Donna received some honorable mentions are:

-Central New York ACLU Community Service Award

-New York State Fair Director’s Award of Achievement

-Southside Business Committee Outstanding Community Service Award

-Syracuse NAACP President’s Award for Public Service

-National Council of Negro Women Community Service Award

-Delta Sigma Theta Inc. Sorority Marjory Dowdell Fortitude Award

-People’s A.M.E. Zion Church “Women on a Mission” Achievement Award

-New York State Association of I.B.P.O.E Women of Achievement Award

-Awarded in 2019 with a Proclamation from City Hall Common Councilors

Donna will be truly and dearly missed by many!


Visitation and Services to be updated. Please check back daily for updates on service information.

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Jan Maloff, Funeral Director.

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A Memorial Tree was planted for Donna
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at A. Dewitt Memorial Funeral Home