The Daily Item
MILTON — Gladys Mari (Peterson) Reeser, generally known as Gay Reeser, of Milton, passed away Monday evening, Sept. 9, 2013, at Nottingham Village in Northumberland. She was 104.
She was born Aug. 12, 1909, to Frank Arthur and Dorthea Lylane Hapsburg von Vosburg Peterson in Minneapolis, Minn. Her father, Frank Peterson, died during World War I in France. She was raised by her aunt and uncle, Michael and Amanda Peterson Foss, in Minneapolis.
Gay was baptized in the Catholic Church as Mari Gabriella Dolores Isabel Francesca Peterson y Recur y Hapsburg von Vosburg. She was raised in both the Catholic and Lutheran churches. Later, she studied Judaism in the Hebrew School in Minneapolis and also attended First Presbyterian Church in Milton. She finally became a believer in a Great Spirit similar to Native American beliefs.
Always ahead of her time, Gay studied pre-med at the University of Minnesota but could not finish the requirements due to financial constraints at the time. She graduated with a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Minnesota. During this time, she was married to her first husband, childhood friend, Clarence “Biggie” Munn. She also modeled part-time. During most of her childhood summers, she sailed with another uncle on freighters on the Great Lakes. Her uncle’s family owned the Wilson Transit Co., based in Cleveland, Ohio.
She went to work for the American Hotel Corp. as a bookkeeper in Wheeling, W.Va. While there, she met and married Edward Franklin Reeser on Oct. 26, 1940. He worked as an auditor for the American Hotel Corp. They were transferred to Portland, Ore., to manage the Mallory Hotel. In 1942, while at the Mallory Hotel, they went up to the roof of the hotel and watched as the Japanese shelled the Oregon beach. Ed was called up for World War II, and they moved to many locations in the western United States as his Army assignments changed frequently.
After the war, and back with the American Hotel Corp., they moved to Cartagena, Colombia, where Ed opened and managed the Hotel Del Caribe. They decided that foreign living was not for them during those times. In 1946, Ed Reeser accepted a position with American Home Foods at the Chef Boy-Ar-Dee plant in Milton after American Home Foods purchased the plant from Hector Boiardi. Ed was a vice president of American Home Foods and the plant manager of Chef Boy-Ar-Dee until his retirement in 1976. With the move to Milton, Gay’s many moves came to an end.
In Milton, she was active in the Milton Garden Club, often being in charge of the staging of the shows. Gay also was an avid bridge player.
Gay was a collector of antiques, a student of local history, a genealogist and a fan of American Indian arts and crafts. She was an amateur artist, having studied with Hilda Karnoil, David Armstrong and Isabel Rossner. Her very good friend, Jane Ellis, of Milton, joined her at many, if not most, of the lessons. She loved books on all of the above subjects, including jewelry and Asian arts and crafts. She was a very interesting person to know and a loyal friend to those she loved.
Gay loved cold daiquiris, straight up, with Myers rum, and good Chinese food. Gay relished her independence and drove her car with the license plate GMR 1 well into her 90s.
Gay’s close circle of friends and family was small, but those lucky few always knew that Gay loved them dearly. She never forgot to say, “You are so important to me, and do you know how much I love you?”
Gladys is survived by a daughter, Virginia Reeser Kessler, and her husband, Frederick Kessler; a granddaughter, Amanda Kessler and her husband, Andrew R.S. Misener; and a great-grandson, Andrew Frederick Misener, all of Lewisburg.
Burial was in Lewisburg Cemetery under the direction of the Cronrath-Grenoble Funeral Home, Lewisburg.
Those who would like to do something in memory of Gay Reeser are requested to do so by performing an act of kindness for a friend or a favorite charity.