James L. Rees

Published 6:48 pm Monday, April 21, 2008

By Staff
James Lester “Jim” Rees died April 17 after a long and courageous battle with cancer.
A service of Holy Eucharist in thanksgiving for the life of Jim Rees was held at 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 20, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Greenville, N.C., with interment following in the church columbarium. The family greeted friends following the ceremony in the church parish hall.
Jim was born Jan. 14, 1935, in Lancaster, Pa., the second son of Dr. Lester Celestine Rees and Alta Marie Zecher Rees. He attended Franklin and Marshall College and graduated from Millersville State College (Pa.) in 1958 with a bachelor’s degree in English. He received a master’s degree from Syracuse University in 1966 in public address, having completed a thesis on Leonard Bernstein as an informative speaker on the CBS-TV series, “Young People’s Concerts.”
His career included positions with radio stations in Lancaster, Pa., high school teaching in Millersville, Pa., and faculty appointments at East Carolina University, Greenville, N.C., beginning in 1966, where he retired as professor emeritus in the ECU School of Communication. During his career at ECU, he taught numerous courses in voice and diction, public speaking, broadcast announcing, audio production and business-professional speech.
He was a contributor to a basic speech text and a co-presenter to a Southern Speech Association conference, producer of two recordings of performances by ECU School of Music ensembles. He also hosted and produced weekly programs for ECU and hosted occasional orchestral and choral programs for broadcast by radio stations in Virginia and North Carolina.
Jim also served as consultant for General Electric Company, the eastern N.C. Regional Drug Program, the N.C. Humanities Committee, the N. C. State Board of Education, America’s 400th Anniversary Committee, the N.C./ECU Center for Applied Technology, and was featured presenter at numerous lectures, seminars and workshops for universities, businesses, honor societies and civic organizations.
In addition to teaching on campus, Jim performed and narrated in numerous dramatic and musical productions at ECU. For many years, he was Lord of the Manor at the popular Christmas Madrigal Dinner series on campus.
Throughout his life, Jim loved classical music, travel, classic automobiles, and endlessly pursued the “absolute sound” on stereo. In his latter years, he was an avid supporter of ECU Pirate football.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his first wife, Diane Aubrey Erwin Rees; and a great-nephew Jesse David Gove.
He is survived by his two sons, Carl Jamieson Rees and wife Melissa, and David Winborne Rees of Greenville; two grandchildren, Cameron James Rees and Margaret Jane Downing Rees and his only sibling, brother Charles John Rees and wife Marie of Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Other survivors include his nephew Gary Bruce Rees of Appleton, Wisconsin, and wife Alida; niece Gale Lynn Rees Gove of Carnation, Washington, and husband Norman and their children Brandy Gove Lindeman of Seattle, Washington, and Adriana and Charles Jason Rees of Appleton, Wisconsin. Also surviving are his former wife Franceine Perry Rees of Greenville, N.C., and several cousins.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be made to the Lester and Alta Rees Memorial Scholarship for communication students at ECU. Checks indicating contributions to the scholarship may be mailed to the ECU Foundation, Suite 1100, 2200 S. Charles Boulevard, Greenville, NC 27858.
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