Thomas D. Reese, Sr., of Doylestown, Pennsylvania died on March 31, 2021, surrounded by his loving family. He was 75. Thomas was the devoted husband of 50 years to the late Patricia A. (née Porsia) Reese, who predeceased him in 2018.
Born in Philadelphia on July 22, 1945, Thomas was the loving son to the late Thomas D. Reese, I, and Helen (née Gatens) Reese. He was also a loving brother to five sisters. As a child he contracted polio, but it did not slow Thomas down. Even though he wore a cast for many of his early years, he enjoyed a happy childhood, with the support of his sisters and family. The challenges of polio did give him the gift of grit and a resolute personality that served him well in the years to come.
He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Saint Joseph’s University in 1969. While at St. Joe’s he worked as a night auditor at the Marriott Motor Inn Philadelphia on City Line Avenue. Thus began his extraordinary fifty-year career in hospitality. He spent the next twenty-eight of those years dedicated to the company he considered his second family, Marriott International. His first job after graduating St. Joe’s was in New York City as assistant controller at the Essex House on Central Park South and then it was on to a Marriott hotel in Minneapolis, Minnesota as the hotel’s controller. He relocated to Marriott’s corporate headquarters in Maryland as regional controller for the southern and western regions, to resident manager at the New Orleans Marriott. He was promoted to general manager at Tan-Tar-A in Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. The pinnacle of his career came in 1985, with his appointment as opening general manager of the (then) 1,824-room New York Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square.
Throughout his career he surrounded himself with the best and brightest in business. This time, he created a trailblazing team to open Marriott’s largest convention hotel at the time, and it remains one of New York City’s largest and most successful hotels. The Marquis was the first major project in the revitalization of Times Square in the challenging 1980s. Thomas was involved in all aspects of promoting tourism, business, and safety in the area. In 1992 he was one of the founding members of the Times Square Business Improvement District (BID), now known as the Times Square Alliance. He witnessed Times Square grow from one of the most challenging destinations to one of the safest and most visited in the world.
Among his many contributions and awards, the ones he held most dear were the memories and bonds with friends and colleagues created along the way. From associates and managers, to fellow hoteliers and business leaders, to mentors, such as Bill Marriott, Jr, they were all dear to his heart.
He retired from Marriott in 1996 as a Senior Vice President responsible for management of more than 100 hotels for all Marriott brands in the New York, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast Region. He then served as Executive Vice President of Operations at Interstate Hotel Corporation, overseeing a portfolio of more than 80 hotels in the United States, Canada and Russia.
In 2000 Thomas started his own development and consulting firm, Reese Hotels, where he worked on several development projects; most notably, the development of an extended-stay property in Newtown, Pennsylvania with his oldest son. He also spent three years as President of Hersha Hospitality Management, assisting them with operations and the expansion of their full-service hotel portfolio.
He did enjoy that all three of his sons spent time in the hotel industry and he found pleasure in mentoring and promoting the industry that gave him and his family such a full life.
Creating opportunities in the hospitality industry and supporting those new to it brought him joy as well. Much like the support he was blessed with as a young boy with polio and the opportunities he had with Marriott, he gave back in the same way.
In his final years he devoted his time to his wife’s passion for horses on their horse farm in New Hope, Pennsylvania, which included taking his grandchildren for tractor rides and tending to the never-ending list of chores, such as mowing fields and mending fences. You could often find him at day’s end watching the sunset with friends and family after walking the horses out to pasture. He loved telling stories about his travels and the good old days in New York City.
Thomas is survived by his three sons, Thomas D. Reese Jr. and his wife Jennifer; Michael E. Reese, Jonathan W. Reese, and by his three grandchildren: Gabriel, Gemma and Jackson.
Due to the ongoing effects of COVID-19, a celebration of Thomas’ life was held privately.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory to his favorite charities by clicking the "Charities" button above would be appreciated.
215 East Court Street
Doylestown, PA 18901