Albany icon Lamar Reese was treated to a surprise birthday celebration Friday at the elementary school which bears his name. Reese, a former Dougherty County Commission chairman, spent 16 years on the Dougherty County School Board, 14 as its chairman. (Staff Photo: Terry Lewis)
ALBANY — Albany’s Lamar Reese often reads to students at the school on Lily Pond Road which bears his name. But when he stepped in to the Lamar Reese Elementary Magnet School’s gymnasium Friday, he was greeted with the shock of a lifetime.
Reese was lured to the school under the guise of a reading request, but when he reached the gym, he knew he had been tricked. The gym was festooned with balloons and banners, children and Albany luminaries, all there to celebrate Feb. 14th as “Lamar Reese Day.” It was a fitting celebration on what was also his 81st birthday.
“I usually carry a yellow legal pad with me that I make notes on every day. I don’t have my pad today and I am totally unprepared. I had no idea this was going to happen,” an emotional Reese told the crowd. “This school has meant so much to me. I remember driving back to Albany in 1999 and (former board member Michael Windom) called me and said the board had decided to name the school after me. I was so shocked I had to pull off the road. It was one of the best things that has ever happened to me.”
Reese served on the Dougherty County School board for 16 years, 14 as the board chairman. Much of that time was spent with John Culbreath as the DCSS superintendent.
“It is fitting and proper that we honor Lamar Reese on this day,” Culbreath said. “This school system, this community, would not have accomplished many of the things we have done if not for him. It’s all good, you (Reese) deserve it.
Windom also lauded Reese as a pillar of the community.
“Along the way in life, we sometimes come across giants. We you encounter individuals like that, you just step back, watch, listen and learn. Lamar Reese is one of those giants” Windom said. “I’d like to thank him for his service and am proud to call him a friend.”
Reese then thanked everyone who showed up to honor him on a his special day.
“This has been a wonderful day for me,” he said. “Thank you for sharing my birthday with me.”